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HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times
Hyderabad, December 27, 2010
The Congress is caught in a bind over the Telangana issue. Though it has adopted a wait-and-watch policy, the party also has to ensure its rivals don't score over it in the one-upmanship game. After TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu's eight-day fast, it is the turn of Congress MPs and legislators from Telangana to go on a hunger strike. Their demand: withdrawal of police cases against protestors arrested during the agitation for a separate state.

The group — 11 Congress MPs and about 20 legislators — rejected Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy's appeal to call off the fast and gathered on Monday at Gunpark in front of the Assembly.

Party leader K Keshava Rao denied it was a "political posturing" and said it was being done to put pressure on the state government to give a written assurance that the cases would be withdrawn.

"This is not a protest against our own government. The students are not hardcore criminals. This is a self-infliction to bring moral pressure on our government," he said.

The response was swift —  135 cases against the Telangana protestors were withdrawn.

Officially, the party said it is waiting for the Sri Krishna committee report. "The government will take any decision only after the report is submitted," spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said.

Party sources said the MPs and legislators had conveyed their "dilemma" to the leadership, which gave them a go-ahead "keeping in mind the local political compulsions".

On Rao's statement
The Congress also rejected TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao's offer to merge his party with it. "...He has issued a statement with political connotations. He is playing politics. Why will he merge TRS with Congress?" asked Ahmed.