Notwithstanding advice that he might turn into a ‘non-entity’, the TRS president has conveyed to the Congress leadership that he must be made the chief minister of Telangana if the Congress is looking for a merger between the two parties.
However, the Pradesh Congress Committee president’s post is all that is being offered by the Grand Old Party at the moment. Vicky Nanjappa reports.
What exactly does the Congress want from the Telangana Rastriya Samiti? It is not interested in an “alliance” and will not settle for anything but a “merger”. Following a meeting with Congress leaders on Wednesday, the TRS leaders had said that it is under no obligation either to tie-up or merge with the Grand Old Party for the forthcoming assembly elections in Telangana.
During the meeting of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and TRS chief K Chandrasekara Rao, the former made it clear that her party wants nothing but a merger and the question of alliance does not arise. Rao was, however, sceptical about this offer as has been advised against a merger. His party workers are telling him that in case of a merger he will become a non-entity in the years to come.
However, Rao had assured the Congress of some sort of tie-up decided to put forth his conditions before Sonia Gandhi. He said he would agree for the merger provided he is made the chief minister of the new Telangana state, sources said.
Sonia Gandhi was however clear that the Congress did not have a precedent of announcing the CM candidate before hand.
However she assured him that he would be made the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee chief in case he agrees to merge the party, sources added.
KCR was non committal on this aspect and sought more time. Sonia told him to keep in touch with AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh on the issue and convey his decision through him.
Sources in the Congress say that it wants to take full advantage of the Telangana issue and capitalise on the fact that it paved the way for the formation of the new state. Fighting the elections with the TRS as an ally would not give them the full benefit.
The Congress is, however, playing a hardball and says that in case KCR does not agree to merge his party, then they would fight the elections alone. Although the Congress does stand to lose out a lot of votes to the TRS if it goes alone, the party has however decided to act tough for now.
Meanwhile, Rao is in a dilemma over the issue. He does realise that he is the one who fought politically for the Telangana issue. However there is a wave in favour of the Congress in Telangana as many people feel that the party ought to be given a chance as it had taken the decision to create a new state in the first place.
Rao is also in talks with the Bharatiya Janata Party over the issue of alliance, but for now he appears to be tilting more towards the Congress as he too feels that this arrangement would help him gain more in Telangana as the BJP is not a factor for these elections.
However, a lot on this front would start to move next week. Today there is confusion in the government in Andhra Pradesh. The Congress leadership is contemplating President’s Rule as it feels that appointing a new chief minister at this point would not be a right decision.
There was talk that Union minister Chiranjeevi is a front runner for the post, but then this is something that is not acceptable to the leaders from Telangana considering he is from the coastal belt of Andhra.
In order to avoid confusion the Congress feels that the best way to oversee the bifurcation is by imposing President’s Rule in the state.
Image: Congress president Sonia Gandhi (left) and TRS chief K Chandrashekar Rao