Barring second thoughts at the eleventh hour, elections to the Lok Sabha could be held towards the end of March or the beginning of April. The Emergency may be relaxed but not lifted. The argument is that the elections in 1967 and 1972 were held while an emergency was on and no doubts were expressed about their fairness. A
formal announcement to hold elections may be made on the opening day of Parliament’s session beginning February 9. By then, the prime minister would have discussed the matter with chief ministers in greater detail. The life of the Lok Sabha has been extended twice by one year on each time, the first time on February 4, 1976, and the second time on November 5, 1976. Elections are, therefore, due only after March 18, 1978. But the prime minister can decide to go to the polls earlier. Only a 40-day notice is necessary to cover the processes of elections, such as nomination of candidates, withdrawals, scrutiny of papers and so on. The delimitation of constituencies — a constitutional obligation after every census — has already taken place. The electoral rolls are more or less up-to-date. The announcement of elections may not come as a surprise because with the release of many detenus, including some MPs and legislators, there is an impression all over that elections are round the corner.
KCS Panikar dead
K.C.S. Panikar, a distinguished painter, died of cancer in Madras. He had been unwell for about a year. He was 65.
India, Lanka deal
The government of India specified the limits of the “historic waters” of India in the Palk Strait, Palk Bay and the Gulf
of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka authorities had on January 14 issued a similar notification. This is learnt to have been done by mutual agreement. These waters have been under the jurisdiction of India and Sri Lanka respectively from historical times.