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Naidu signals February polls

Hyderabad, Aug. 9: Telugu Desam chief . Chandrababu Naidu today told his party’s politburo, after a chat with deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, that he believes Assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh will not be clubbed with Lok Sabha elections.

The Andhra chief minister said he believes that the parliamentary elections, scheduled for October next year, would be brought forward to February.

Signals so far emanating from New Delhi, Advani in particular, have indicated that parliamentary polls and Assembly elections in five states, due this November, would be held together. Since the state polls cannot be postponed because of constitutional reasons, the inference is that the Lok Sabha elections will be brought forward.

Naidu told the Desam politburo that the state polls will not be held along with parliamentary elections. “The Assembly polls for AP will be later,” he said as the BJP has conceded his demand for not clubbing the two.

Elections in Andhra are due in November 2004 along with parliamentary polls. Both were held together in 1999. The Desam had won 29 parliamentary and 181 Assembly seats and its ally, the BJP, won eight Lok Sabha and 12 Assembly seats.

Naidu told the politburo and the state executive that certain hard decisions were in the offing. “My analysis and survey has shown that the performance and popular base of nearly 100 of the existing 180 legislators have dwindled drastically. Hence, I will be compelled to introduce new faces in the best interests of the party.”

Desam sources said contrary to public perception, Naidu does not want early Lok Sabha polls as he fears that if he fails to retain all the Lok Sabha seats, it would enthuse the Congress and send a wrong signal to his cadre. An internal assessment of the Desam is that it may not be able to repeat the 1999 performance.

Asked if his party welcomes Advani’s proposal for advancing the parliamentary polls to November, Desam member in the Lok Sabha, Jagannath, said: “We may not favour it. February election may still be okay. The party has not yet taken any decision. We will sit and discuss.”

The BJP is the ruling party and it has to take all the allies into confidence. The political situation in each state is different, he added, but said the Desam can go to polls “anytime”.

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