New Delhi, Jan. 27: The Union cabinet today recommended dissolution of the Lok Sabha on February 6, more than eight months ahead of schedule, paving the way for early general elections.
“The cabinet decided to advise the President to dissolve the 13th Lok Sabha on February 6,” a one-line resolution adopted at a brief meeting at Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s residence said. No other item was on the agenda, parliamentary affairs minister Sushma Swaraj told reporters.
Soon after, Vajpayee drove to Rashtrapati Bhavan to apprise President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam of the decision. He was accompanied by his deputy L.K. Advani, defence minister George Fernandes and Swaraj.
A Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesman said Vajpayee conveyed to Kalam that the House be dissolved after the votes on account for the general and railway budgets and completion of other business by February 5, the last day of the short session beginning on Thursday.
“The President gave us his good wishes,” Swaraj said at a news conference later.
The government’s recommendation for dissolving the House is a signal to the Election Commission that fresh Lok Sabha polls should be held at the earliest. The National Democratic Alliance wants the poll process to be wrapped up by April-end, though the final decision rests with the commission.
The announcement also ends speculation about early Assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh. The Andhra polls will now be held simultaneously with the general elections. Chief minister . Chandrababu Naidu will be happy as he has been arguing his case with the BJP leadership for simultaneous polls.
The Congress welcomed the government’s decision, saying it was “confident” about its “prospects”. “The earlier the elections, the better it is for the country to be liberated from the misrule of the BJP-led government,” party spokesman S. Jaipal Reddy said.
Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Laloo Prasad Yadav said the dissolution of the Lok Sabha would mark the “farewell of communal forces”.
The Election Commission is going to meet shortly to review the situation and decide on a suitable date for countrywide polls. Consultations with the home ministry, which is the nodal ministry in charge of paramilitary forces, are also essential. The commission already has a preliminary idea of the force available with the home ministry. The elections are likely to be held in three to four phases.
The NDA government had in an earlier cabinet meeting decided to call a short session of Parliament to pass the Railway Budget and the vote on account.
There will be no presidential address in the session as it would be construed as part of the winter session, which is yet to be prorogued. Usually, the first session of the year begins with a presidential address.
This is fourth time in 54 years that a government has deliberately recommended dissolution of the House ahead of its term to hold early elections.