The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP chafes at poll date wait
- Timing is all, says Prime Minister on birthday

New Delhi, Dec. 25: The suspense over the general elections would end next month as all indications point towards polls as early as end-April 2004 or early May, top BJP sources said today.

The issue cropped up at a meeting of the party’s central office-bearers, attended by deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani. They were told the matter would be discussed threadbare at the national executive in Hyderabad on January 11 and 12 and a final decision taken.

Sources said if early polls are decided on, the Prime Minister (reciting his poems in PTI picture) could recommend dissolution of Parliament “any time” after Makar Sankranti is celebrated on January 14. According to the Hindu calendar, a “propitious” period starts thereafter.

With signs of Kalyan Singh returning and a growing perception that uncertain states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have got a leg-up, Vajpayee told party workers on his birthday today that “time is important”.

After the office-bearers’ meeting, BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan said: “Some felt the uncertainty over poll timing should end. They said every day a ball is bowled. Sometimes we are told 250 balls will be bowled, at times it is 225. They said this uncertainty would not give them time to make plans.”

Advani told the members that Atal Bihari Vajpayee was expected to seek feedback from the party, discuss it in Hyderabad and then make up his mind.

Vajpayee’s mood, sources said, was to go for elections on schedule in September, but the BJP’s recent Assembly poll sweep had prompted him to take note of the “general churning” in the party.

“There was a feeling among BJP supporters that we will benefit from early polls. But someone has to make an assessment at a proper forum and the national executive will do it,” a source said.

The other impetus is the pressure from key allies, Andhra Pradesh’s Telugu Desam Party and Maharashtra’s Shiv Sena, which want simultaneous general and Assembly polls.

Dismissing a theory that Vajpayee is keen on earning a place in history as the only non-Congress Prime Minister to last five years, sources said the only factor he could consider is the budget.

“Will the budget be beneficial' This will be weighed against the perception that conditions are favourable for us, the Congress is in disarray. The other imponderable is a bad monsoon,” a source said.

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