Economic analysts see chances of early general elections

NEW DELHI DEC. 4. Economic analysts are reading two messages from today's Assembly election results. One that the current upswing in the economy will stay on track and that the general elections are likely to be advanced to April next year.

Political affiliations apart, there is some appreciation that the poll outcome has gone in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Had the results been otherwise, a demoralised and undermined Central Government could have led to a general drift in economic management, and the momentum that the economy has gained lately could have been lost. The BJP's strong performance in the Assembly polls will mean a buoyant Government, carrying forward its economic agenda.

The second message is that the Vajpayee Government now has all the reasons to advance the Lok Sabha elections due in October next year. "Every indicator looks good and it would be better for the Government to go in for early elections. The feel-good factor is very much in evidence with the economy poised to grow at seven per cent plus. The stock markets are on a roll and improved agricultural production is expected to keep prices down while higher rural incomes could translate into higher consumer spending,'' some of the analysts contacted by The Hindu said.

On the contrary, there is very little reason for the Government to gamble with the next monsoon and the next budget. "This year, the monsoon rains were plentiful. Who knows how they will turn out next year. If the rains fail and drought hits the country even in some parts, the overall impact would be dampening," was the general consensus.

"The Finance Minister, Jaswant Singh, has held back some important decisions which are good for the economy. The Kelkar Committee recommendations on direct and indirect taxes and the implementation of the Value Added Tax are two examples. But why risk a bad political budget? If elections are advanced to around April, then only a vote-on-account would do," they said.

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