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After virtually killing its poll chances in Seemandhra, the Congress is facing embarrassment in Telangana too with local powerhouse TRS turning increasingly cool to merging with the national party.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi — a major force behind the statehood movement — and its leader K Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR) are miffed with the Congress’ lack of commitment on making him chief minister of India’s 29th state post-polls. It has also lashed out at the Congress for poaching its MP Vijaya Shanthi and for Union minister Jairam Ramesh’s statements on Telangana in the last two days.
This comes even as the President on Saturday approved the law to carve out a separate state of Telangana and bring Andhra Pradesh under central rule.
“We are well capable of governing our state to glory,” KCR told party workers on Friday while also listing out a bag of freebies for voters — a two-bedroom house for every family, a super specialty hospital in each district.
When he asked the cadre if they wanted a merger, the answer was a loud ‘no’. To this, he remarked, “You don’t want it and even the Congress acts like they don’t want it. Yesterday, a minister named Jairam said he was personally against the formation of Telangana. This is disrespect to all of Telangana.”
On Thursday, as Vijaya Shanthi joined the Congress, a senior TRS leader had said, “What signals are they trying to send? That they will dictate terms and bulldoze us into merger or alliance? What arrogance!”
“There was no meaningful engagement from the Congress on the merger. The Vijaya Shanthi and Jairam issues complicated matters further,” said a former Congress leader who shifted to the TRS last year.
“A formal decision will be taken on Monday,” said politburo member B Vinod Kumar. “We are thankful to Sonia Gandhi but the format of our gratitude could be different. In my personal opinion, the TRS should exist independently,” KCR’s daughter K Kavitha said, denying she had met BJP president Rajnath Singh.
The Congress said it would expect the TRS to keep its promise to merge, but also conceded that an alliance may be the only way forward.
On that count too, many leaders said they didn’t expect KCR to stick with the party if the NDA returned to power. “The TRS is more like (Ram Vilas Paswan’s) LJP,” a Congress leader said.
The TRS was always uncomfortable with the idea of merging with the Congress and losing its identity.
It agreed to it to convince the Centre to push the Telangana bill through Parliament. But now, its leaders are already speaking in terms of being equal partners, albeit in private.
“Sharad Pawar (NCP) walked out of the Congress, formed a party and became a Congress ally,” one such leader said. “We should work out a seat-sharing arrangement with the Congress,” added another.
Inputs from HTC, Delhi