Hyderabad, 25 October
The merger between the Telangana Rashtra Samithi with the Congress has finished the advanced stage of negotiations and is waiting for Mrs Sonia Gandhi&’s clearance after which it would just be a matter of timing.
The TRS&’s main demand is it wants to contest six Lok Sabha seats, out of 17, and 42 Assembly seats, out of 119. “Our president Mr K Chandrashekar Rao told the Congress leadership it would be an honourable deal,” a top source told The Statesman.
Mr Rao wants the merger during or after the Telangana Bill is passed in Parliament. Mrs Gandhi&’s aides are looking at a timing of their choice. For the record, however, he rules out a merger. “The TRS will play a key role in developing Telangana when the state is formed. People want it to be part of the rebuilding process,” he told the TRS executive committee today. He also wants a Rajya Sabha seat, which the party “sacrificed” to the CPI-M in 2004 at the Congress’ behest.
There their consistent argument was why the Congress has to give into Mr Rao&’s demands particularly on issues like who the chief minister would be. Mr Rao prefers to occupy the post or nominate someone of his choice. The Congress leaders argued that it&’s meaningless to take the initiative of carving Telangana, face the flak for that decision from Seemandhra and then hand over power to Mr Rao, Congress sources said.
Mr Rao&’s firm counter to this is that statehood would not have been possible had it not been for the consistent fight by the TRS since 2001.
The Congress is also aware that on the ground its cadre is numerically stronger, more active and more enthused than the TRS. Therefore Mr Singh yesterday called up leaders of some districts and asked them to immediately hold public meetings and start taking credit for Telangana formation. What is gnawing on Mr Rao&’s mind is 10 of his 17 MLAs have opened communication with the Congress to switch over if their respective future is not protected by the TRS.
Mr Rao complained to the Congress that it&’s unfair to bait his MLAs.