Debating India

BJP for early polls in Cong bastions

Smita GUPTA

Wednesday 21 January 2004, by GUPTA *Smita

Article paru dans le Times of India, ?dition en ligne du mercredi 21 janvier 2003.

NEW DELHI: Not content with exploiting the "feel-good" factor created by the recent electoral victories and its "Shining India" campaign with early general elections, the BJP wants to go a step further: It is now mounting pressure on the Congress-led governments in Karnataka and Maharashtra to dissolve their state assemblies so that polls due there in September can be held along with the general elections in April.

BJP sources said the party is keen that along with Andhra Pradesh - where state elections will be held with the LS polls - Maharashtra, Karnataka, Sikkim and Arunachal should all go to polls soon. With Sikkim ’s ruling Sikkim Democratic Front part of the NDA and Arunachal Pradesh, which has a BJP government, the party does not anticipate too many problems in persuading the CMs of these two states to hold elections ahead of schedule. But in Karnataka and Maharashtra , the decision to hold early polls lies with the Congress-led state governments.

Interestingly, while Karnataka CM S M Krishna has opposed advancing assembly polls, the Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra is sending out mixed signals. Though NCP leader Sharad Pawar has so far opposed simultaneous polls, Congress CM Sushilkumar Shinde admitted on Tuesday in Mumbai that some Congress MLAs wanted simultaneous polls, but that he would have to consult the NCP.

Sources said Congress MLAs were concerned that Pawar may renege on his poll pact with Congress after the LS polls. This comes a day after BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan said NCP’s opposition to simultaneous polls might be an attempt to keep its options open.

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