The Congress has convinced at least eight Telangana Rashtra Samithi MLAs to join them, reports Vicky Nanjappa
With Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrasekhar Rao being non-committal on the merger with the Congress following announcement of a separate Telangana, the ruling party has adopted a new strategy -- woo TRS leaders.
The Congress is hopeful that at least eight TRS members of the legislative assembly will join it. A core team of the Congress has been in touch with almost all TRS MLAs since the July 30 announcement and sources say that they have coaxed eight of them. The first three on the Congress’s radar were A Chandrasekhar, G Vijaya Rama Rao and Chandulal. They held a meeting with Congress in-charge of Andhra Pradesh Digvijaya Singh, who had said that immediately after the announcement the TRS should honour its commitment on the merger.
Although the TRS MLAs have agreed on principle to join the Congress, they are a bit skeptical. A legislator, who was approached by the Congress, told rediff.com that the prospects for TRS in the forthcoming elections were not bright in wake of the Telangana announcement. “The Congress has an advantage and we expected the TRS to merge with it as was decided earlier. However, we need to know if KCR will continue to fight independently or not. In case we join the Congress today and later KCR decides to merge with it, we stand nowhere,” he said.
KCR, however, appears to be buying his time. He is looking at a post-poll alliance with the Congress. The TRS chief believes that any decision to merge with the Congress now would result in a loss of identity.
Clearly, the Congress is in no mood to wait. Insiders say that the party high command is not interested in a post-poll alliance and would like to capitalise on the Telangana decision.
Madhu Yashki Goud, Congress MP from Telangana, said, “The party does not want any pro-Telangana votes to split. If the TRS fights the election on a separate ticket, the votes will get divided.”
Meanwhile, all eyes are also on actor-turned-politician Vijayshanthi, who was recently suspended by the TRS for anti-party activities. The Congress is trying to negotiate a deal with the other MLAs through her. However, she too has remained non-committal.
According to sources, she is considering joining the Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party. She is not keen to continue in the TRS as she views the suspension as an insult. Her future in any of the parties would depend largely on whether they would give her a ticket from the Medhak constituency of which she is a sitting member.
Sensing the Congress party’s moves, the TRS is in the damage control mode, holding meetings to ensure none of its MLAs leave. KCR is aware that it will weaken his case if there is an exodus at this stage and it will impact his bargaining capacity with the Congress.
The TRS has maintained that it wanted a working association with the Congress, but added that all talks will be only be held after the bill on Telangana gets a nod and the signature of the President.
Image: A TRS supporter celebrates after CWC announcement of a separate Telangana state.