The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Early election buzz again

New Delhi, Dec. 13: Early general elections cannot be ruled out yet, say BJP insiders, though party chief M. Venkaiah Naidu maintained in Hyderabad today that “there is no proposal before the party to advance polls”.

The proponents reportedly felt “immediate advantage” should be taken of the “pro-BJP wave” as seen in the recent elections. Those against were for a reality check on the “euphoria”. The polls are due in September 2004.

A final view, sources said, is expected at the BJP national executive in Hyderabad, advanced to January 11 and 12 in “an indication that serious thought is being given to the proposal for early polls”. They stressed that the Prime Minister would have the “last word”. The BJP is also looking to the Andhra Pradesh chief minister’s meetings with Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his deputy on Monday. His state might go to polls in early 2004.

The arguments favouring early polls are:

The new BJP chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan may fail to sustain the Assembly polls’ “feel good” sentiment

Anti-incumbency combined with the stamp scam may see the BJP-Shiv Sena through in Maharashtra, but Gujarat may not be “that easy” because of “early signs of resentment against the Narendra Modi government”

Take “advantage” of the bonhomie with the Samajwadi Party before it starts looking for a “secular” alternative

A “demoralised” Congress

The arguments against are:

“A big harmony vote from the neutral, thinking class” based on progress in the Pakistan peace process

Dividends of a “pro-people’s” budget, instead of a vote-on- account.

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