The UPA suffered a jolt on Tuesday when the TRS’s Chandrashekhara Rao and A Narendra quit the Union Cabinet and the party withdrew support to the coalition over the demand for a separate Telangana state.
Immediately after sending his resignation letter to PM Manmohan Singh, with a copy to Sonia Gandhi, Rao hit out at the Congress. At a press conference, he slammed it party as “villain number one,'' accused it of 'betrayal' on the statehood issue and predicted it would invite the “curse of the Telangana people.’’ With his credibility and base eroding, Rao is battling for political survival as he strives to re-ignite his statehood campaign. He will sit on an indefinite hunger strike at Jantar Mantar from Wednesday and later hold protests in Andhra, including a rally on September 10 in Siddipet.
Rao and Narendra submitted their resignations as labour minister and MoS Rural Development through their personal secretary to the PMO after a day of hectic consultations - first with UPA allies (chaired by Sonia and attended by the PM) and then with the Left and other outside supporters - did not yield any result.
Like the four member MDMK, the departure of the five TRS MPs would not affect the UPA which has the support of over 300 MPs in the Lok Sabha. But it could create an impression that the Congress is unable to deliver on its CMP promises or hold on to its allies - something the latter tried to counter by bringing Rao face to face with UPA allies and supporting parties on the Telangana issue on Tuesday. The allies urged him not to quit the UPA lest it weakens his cause. But he wanted a time-frame for the creation of Telengana that wasn't forthcoming.
Rao expressed his frustration in his resignation letter. He dismissed as a "travesty of truth'' the impression given by the Pranab Mukherjee-led panel that there was no consensus on the Telangana issue. Claiming the support of nearly 450 MPs belonging to the UPA, NDA and Independent parties, he said, "If this is not consensus, what is it?” Obviously, the TRS MPs didn’t attend the PM’s dinner for UPA MPs.