Suspense over TRS merger

dc correspondent

Nation, Politics

Digvijay Singh disputes KCR’s claim on TRS merger with Congress.

Hyderabad: The merger of the TRS with the Congress is turning out to be another thriller close on the heels of the state’s bifurcation issue in Parliament.

AICC incharge of Andhra Pradesh Digvijay Singh on Wednesday disputed TRS chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s claim that no talks had started and said that the latter had in fact indicated the party’s merger with the Congress.

“As far as the merger is concerned, we are very happy that Mr Rao had met honourable Congress president (Mrs Sonia Gandhi) and honourable vice president (Mr Rahul Gandhi). He indicated the merger of the TRS with the Congress,” Mr Singh said in New Delhi, adding, “The details (modalities) will be worked out.”

Mr Singh’s statement indicated the Congress’ attempts to hold sway over the TRS and insisting that Mr Rao make up his mind about the merger as he had promised in the past as a precondition to the Telangana Bill being passed in Parliament.

Sources in the Congress, meanwhile, said that the TRS was seeking its pound of flesh for the merger. “The Congress is firm on the merger with the TRS without any preconditions, but Mr Rao and his team prefer an alliance. The Congress wants the merger before elections while Mr Rao prefers an alliance now and to later think about a merger. The Congress feels that Mr rao’s mood may change and he may back the NDA the if Congress loses. He is indicating a political vacuum in Telangana and emergence of the TD and the BJP to take TRS’ place if it merges with the Congress,” a senior Congress leader close to the party high command told this newspaper.

He added, “The TRS wants the chief minister’s post to be given to Mr Rao besides other sops for the party as part of the merger deal. The Congress, being a national party, is quite edgy about the issue. The Congress offered 50-odd Assembly seats and five or six Lok Sabha seats,” he said.

Mr Rao has also submitted a long list of demands, including special category status for Telanga-na and other developmental packages to UPA chairperson Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Dr NDA, Manmohan Singh.
However, he denied that merger talks had begun with the Congress and accused a section of the media of speculative stories late on Tuesday night. But, Mr Singh contradicted him on Wednes-day, indicating a growing cold war between the two parties on the issue.

TRS politburo member B. Vinod Kumar, meanwhile, said that the TRS would take a call on the issue when a formal request was made to the party. “A large number of party leaders and workers are against the merger and prefer an alliance with the Congress instead. Let’s wait and see,” he said.

State information and public relations minister D.K. Aruna on Wednesday said that it was not fair on the part of Mr Rao to put riders for the merger after promising unconditional merger if Mrs Sonia Gandhi granted a Telangana state.