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Election Commission preparing for polls in April 2009

A Correspondent in Delhi | October 30, 2008 18:55 IST

The Election Commission is reported to be already working on a tentative programme of conducting the elections in April like the last elections in 2004, when the polls were held in four phases.

The first sitting of the present 14th Lok Sabha was held on June 2,  2004 and hence the election commission has sufficient time to go for  the elections after the exams are over as the Constitution requires the new House to be constituted only by June 2, 2009. Sources said the commission cannot go by the diktat of the ruling coalition to hold elections whenever it suits the Congress and its allies.

There should be a solid reason for the election commission to hold the elections early in February and that reason would arise only if the Lok Sabha is dissolved, necessitating an early election to constitute a new House that can pass the budget for the next year, the sources said.

They pointed out that former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu [Images] had also sought to prepone the Andhra Pradesh assembly elections but his request was turned down because he did not get the house dissolved.

Besides a section of the Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad is also pressing for polls in February to cash in on the people's anger against the present Janata Dal-United-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition government of Nitish Kumar in Bihar because of the tardy relief work during the recent widespread floods in the state.

The Congress had sought to get into the poll gear right in the beginning of of this year and wanted to announce its candidates in advance as recommended by a panel headed by Defence Minister A K Antony.

The rival Bhartiya Janata Party also made a false show of declaring a couple of candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, including its prime ministerial candidate Lal Krishna Advani [Images] from Gandhinagar in Gujarat, but it has since not named any other candidates while focusing on creating an election machinery right to be ready for the forthcoming polls.

The Congress is divided on the issue of holding elections in February or in April-May. A section wanting early elections is even suggesting  that the Lok Sabha can be dissolved before it is slated to resume the session on December 10 to prevent any advantage to the Opposition in creating an atmosphere against the present government.

The BJP wanted Parliament to meet again from December 10  instead of opting for a new session as repeatedly pressed for by the Left parties as it feared that the government that dragged its feet in convening the monsoon session may not hold the session at all if no fixed date is announced in the House.

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