In the wake of resignations by the legislators loyal to Kadapa MP YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, the actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi and senior Congress leaders from Andhra Pradesh on Monday asserted that there is no threat to the state government.
26 MLAs, including 24 from ruling Congress and two TDP rebel legislators, on Monday put in their papers protesting inclusion of late chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy's name in the CBI FIR in a probe into his son Jaganmohan's assets.
"I had said on an earlier occasion that we will protect the government. Such a situation prevails today. We are responsible for the stability of this government. May be for this reason, Sonia Gandhiji sought merger of Praja Rajyam with Congress. This shows her farsightedness and vision. Nothing can be done to this government," Chiranjeevi said.
He was speaking at a function in Gandhi Bhavan, the state Congress headquarters, where the Praja Rajyam MLAs and other party leaders formally joined the ruling party.
Chiranjeevi formally became member of Congress in the presence of AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi on August 20.
Observing that the public mood in the country is against corruption as witnessed in the massive support for Anna Hazare's fast and the outcome of Tamil Nadu Assembly polls, he indicated that a similar fate awaited "them" (Jagan and loyalists).
In an apparent reference to Jagan, state Congress president Botsa Satyanarayana said some individuals and parties are trying to destabilise the Congress government.
"There is an impression in some that they can do anything with money. We need to face this unitedly. We need to safeguard democracy," he said.
Asserting that the Congress base is strong in Andhra Pradesh, chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy said none can defeat Congress and that the party would lose only if it is not united.
"In 1978, several top leaders formed Congress (O). But the Congress swept the elections," the chief minister said.
PRP has 18 MLAs in 294-member Andhra Pradesh Assembly.
However, one of the MLAs is reportedly sailing with Jagan, while the 16 legislators, excluding Chiranjeevi, and other party leaders today formally joined Congress as it happens to be birthday of the megastar.
"I had celebrated many birthdays on a large scale as a film actor but this is a historic occasion. This augurs well for the development of the state," he said. Expressing happiness over the merger, the actor said he would remain a Congressman forever and work for strengthening the party.
Explaining why he merged his party with Congress, Chiranjeevi said former state Congress president D Srinivas had proposed fighting Hyderabad civic elections together last year.
The actor admitted that he once met Sonia Gandhi without public knowledge where she talked about the merger of Congress and PRP.
Chiranjeevi said he initially rejected the idea but subsequently agreed to it as the Congress rolled out initiatives like Right to Information Act, Right to Education and food security bill.
Meanwhile, the state Congress president Botsa Satyanarayana said late chief minister YS Rajsekhara Reddy had himself favoured the merger of PRP with Congress after the 2009 polls.
Highlighting Rajasekhara Reddy's oft-repeated comment that Rahul Gandhi should become Prime Minister, Satyanarayana hit out at Jagan for his actions against Congress.
"What are you (Jagan) doing? Is the soul of YSR going to rest in peace with this?," he asked.
Senior Congress leaders, including former chief minister K Rosaiah, expressed confidence that Congress would be strengthened with the merger of PRP.