You are here: Home » Economy & Policy » News
Business Standard

PM defers foreign trips ahead of early polls

Our Political Bureau  |  New Delhi 

citing "domestic preoccupation" amid speculation that Parliament might be dissolved on February 6 or February 9.
Vajpayee spoke to his Thai counterpart, Thaksin Shinawatra, on Saturday expressing his inability to attend the conference of the Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand Economic Cooperation.
Shinawatra informed Vajpayee that he would consult the leaders of the other countries, but said several of them, including Sri Lanka, wanted the conference put off if India did not attend.
Having postponed the Thailand visit, Vajpayee could not have proceeded to Australia without causing diplomatic embarrassment.
This is the third time Vajpayee has put off visiting Australia. As a measure of caution, announcements customarily made before such bilateral meetings were not made this time.
The cancelled visits will influence the date of dissolution of the Lok Sabha. The government says no date has been set because the schedule of the parliamentary session to pass the vote-on-account, beginning January 30, has to be drawn up in consultation with the Opposition. Thus February 9 is the earliest that dissolution can be proposed.
This is because the Opposition might want more discussion on the vote-on-account and once they are in town for Parliament, MPs will not want to forego their pay and allowances for the weekend beginning February 7.
If the government is in a great hurry, however, the House could be dissolved on the evening of February 6 after the mandatory special Cabinet meeting from which the prime minister will drive to Rashtrapati Bhavan to seek general elections. The president will then issue a proclamation conferring caretaker status on the prime minister.
The immediate fallout of the dissolution will be that MPs will not get their next tranche of their Rs 1 crore constituency development fund due in April because the model code of conduct will kick in. The funds are sanctioned twice a year, in April and September.


First Published: Tue, January 20 2004. 00:00 IST