Don't field candidate in RS polls: Sonia to Chiranjeevi
Rattled by the open defiance of YS Jaganmohan Reddy ahead of Rajya Sabha polls, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Saturday asked PRP chief Chiranjeevi not to field his nominee so that there is no threat to party candidates.
Chiranjeevi, who met Gandhi on her invitation, assured her that he would get back within two days after holding talks with party leaders.
Meeting in the backdrop of Kadapa MP Jaganmohan embarrassing the Congress leadership by going ahead with his 'Odarpu' yatra despite being asked not to do so, Chiranjeevi also ruled out merger of his Praja Rajyam Party with the Sonia Gandhi-led party.
"Congress President Sonia Gandhi requested me to withdraw our candidate from the Rajya Sabha polls. I told her that I will discuss the issue among party leaders and get back in two days," he told reporters after his 30-minute meeting at 10, Janpath.
In a significant remark, the actor-turned politician said since Gandhi had personally requested him to reconsider the party decision, "I will have to consider (her request)."
Congress High Command asked Chiranjeevi to come for talks after he announced that his party would field a candidate in the Rajya Sabha polls.
If PRP, which has 16 members in the 294-member Assembly, fields a candidate, a contest will be thrust upon the Congress, which it does not want in view of eruption of factionalism in the state unit after the death of late Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy.
The party also does not want to take any chance in the wake of the open defiance of Reddy's son Jaganmohan, who is said to have the support of several MLAs, MPs and Ministers.
With 156 MLAs, Congress can get four members elected to the Upper House on its own, but it wants to avoid a contest.
Chiranjeevi said he would come to the capital in the first week of June to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss about the Polavaram project.
Asked whether his party would merge with the Congress, he said there was question of merger.
"There is no question of merger. It does not arise," he said.
Congress leaders feel an understanding with Chiranjeevi's PRP will help in reining in Jaganmohan, whose defiance has led
to apprehensions in the party of a possible split, if not in the near future but two years down the line.
Chiranjeevi said he also apprised Sonia Gandhi of his recent tour of the state and the response he got from the people.
"I also appealed to her to accord national status for the Polavaram irrigation project. She asked me to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and discuss this. I will meet the PM," the actor-turned politician said.
Ahead of his meeting, Chiranjeevi held talks with senior Congress leaders Veerappa Moily and Ahmed Patel, Gandhi's political adviser. They were also present during the meeting at 10, Janpath.
Earlier, Chiranjeevi saw no wrong in having an understanding with Congress as it was a secular party.
"Congress is a secular party like ours. So there is nothing wrong... but let us see... we are like-minded parties," he said.
"We have been opposing Congress only on the basis of issues. I have great regard for the Prime Minister and the Congress President," he told reporters on his arrival in New Delhi.
Asked whether his visit can be seen in the context of Jaganmohan embarrassing the Congress by going ahead with the yatra, Chiranjeevi said: "I don't think so."