The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) on Monday ruled out merger of the party with the Congress and in more bad news for the ruling party, didn’t hold out much hope for an alliance either.
“Merger is ruled out. As for alliances, a committee, headed by secretary general K Keshava Rao, has been constituted. It will take a call if anyone approaches with a proposal for a tie-up,” TRS chief K Chandrasekhara Rao said after a five-hour long marathon joint meeting of the party politburo, State executive and the State Legislature Party at the Telangana Bhavan.
Asked if he was in favour of an alliance with Congress, KCR replied, “Anyone (including Congress) may approach the committee and file an application. The committee will discuss among themselves and report to me,” he said. KCR strongly defended the decision not to merge with the Congress and in the process, fired salvos at the party. “It was true I had offered to merge TRS with the Congress in September last when Union Minister Vayalar Ravi called me to Delhi. I told him to give us the Telangana State without riders in return for merger. The Congress remained unmoved and while leaving Delhi, I made it clear my offer of merger had expired because there was no response from them,” he said.
Chandrasekhara Rao explained that the party’s politburo and State executive rejected the merger option as “there should be a regional party in Telangana to give voice to the people.” He also said as the next government would be a coalition in Delhi, it was necessary for the TRS to have as many MPs as possible to bargain from a position of strength. “Now that Telangana State has been created, we are no longer a movement. We are a 100 per cent political party. We will win 16 of the 17 MP seats. We will support whichever formation comes to power at the Centre so that maximum benefit could be extracted,” he said. The TRS chief was highly critical of the way the Congress had cold shouldered TRS demands at the time of bifurcation of the state.
TRS chief K Chandrasekhara Rao said, “We made several demands and some of them are very genuine. For instance, we wanted transfer of AP Bhavan to Telangana State. We did not want Governor to have powers of law and order in Hyderabad. We wanted national project status for Pranahita-Chevella. No attention was paid to the request for package for eight Telangana districts (barring Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy) which had already been recognised as backward by the Planning Commission.”
This apart, the way the Congress leaders had acted after division had hurt the people of Telangana, he claimed. “Even before the President’s signature on the T bill dried up, the Union Cabinet decided to bring in an ordinance transferring seven mandals in Khammam district to Seemandhra which we had been opposing right from the beginning. Then, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh makes irresponsible comments in Hyderabad on Telangana movement, tries to drive a wedge between TJAC and TRS and predicts that if there is no merger, the government in Telangana would be a dorala rajyam,” he pointed out.
Another reason why the party leaders and workers were against merger was because the Congress had rolled out red carpet for leaders who had been expelled from the TRS. “Is this the way a party which wants to work with TRS should act?,” he asked.
KCR said that when he met Sonia Gandhi twice after the division of the state, she had not asked him to merge his party. He felt that the middle level leadership in the Congress had misled Sonia Gandhi against conceding the demands of the TRS. “We (people of Telangana) want an identity of our own and that is the reason why we are not merging in the Congress. In reconstruction of Telangana, we have to have our own identity and we should emerge as a major political force at the national level to get what people in T state deserve,” he said.