The dominant party in India's ruling coalition has asked the government to organise national elections as early as possible.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, on Monday wound up a meeting to chart out its poll strategy in the southern city of Hyderabad.
"The timing of elections is being discussed and now you have passed a resolution in which the government has been directed to hold elections as soon as possible," Vajpayee told the party's top decision-making body.
Vajpayee's five-year term ends in October, but he is expected to announce an election soon to capitalise on a booming economy, a thaw in relations with neighbour Pakistan and an opposition in disarray.
"The prime minister said he hopes the elections will be held around April," a BJP spokesman told reporters.
He added that the finance minster had been asked to seek an interim approval for spending from parliament instead of presenting a regular budget.
"Normally in elections, there is an anti-incumbency factor against the ruling party. But we can gain this time round because there is a mood in favour of the incumbents"
Lal Krishna Advani,
Indian Deputy Prime Minister
Preparation for the election will begin in earnest, once the federal cabinet recommends dissolution of parliament's 545-member lower house.
Various BJP leaders have said in the past week they favour elections in April or May but the date has to be set by the independent election commission, which began assessing its readiness last week.
Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani told the BJP's national executive meeting the ruling coalition was in a strong position before the polls.
"Normally in elections, there is an anti-incumbency factor against the ruling party," Advani said, referring to the traditional unhappiness of voters against the party in power.
"But we can gain this time round because there is a mood in favour of the incumbents," a party spokesman quoted him as saying.