HYDERABAD: Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao meeting Congress MLAs at Pragathi Bhavan on Friday does not seem to have struck the right chord with many Opposition leaders – of both the Congress and the BJP.
The Pragathi Bhavan meeting has not just raised political heat in the state but also led to differences of opinion among cross section of leaders in the Congress with some reportedly expressing their views in support of the meeting while some others strongly opposing it saying such meetings would send wrong signals to people and confuse voters especially at a time when the crucial Huzurabad Assembly bypoll is round the corner.
The Pragathi Bhavan meeting triggered speculation over what could be the motive behind the Chief Minister meeting Opposition parties all of a sudden. They suspect a ‘political strategy’ ahead of the bypoll to push Opposition parties on the defensive and spread confusion among them.
Congress leaders on Saturday held a demonstration at Gandhi Bhavan to protest against increasing attacks on Dalits under the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) regime. After the programme, the issue of Congress MLAs meeting the Chief Minister reportedly came up for discussion.
It was learnt that Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) chief N. Uttam Kumar Reddy expressed his displeasure over party MLAs meeting the Chief Minister. But Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka and MLA D. Sridhar Babu strongly defended the meeting arguing that there was nothing wrong in meeting the Chief Minister on people's issues.
A few Congress leaders reportedly argued that party MLAs walked into the trap laid by Chandrashekar Rao ahead of the bypoll to send a message that the TRS and the Congress stood united to defeat the BJP. They reminded the party leadership of the BJP leaders falling into the trap of Chandrashekar Rao by meeting TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao at Pragathi Bhavan in April seeking the TRS not to contest bypoll for the Lingojiguda division in the GHMC. The BJP lost the seat to the Congress even after the TRS abstained from contesting as per the BJP's request. They expressed fears that the same would be repeated in Huzurabad. This meeting created fissures in the BJP then forcing party high command to order an inquiry and take action against errant leaders.
The BJP which accused the TRS and the Congress of striking a 'political deal' to defeat BJP's Etela Rajendar in Huzurabad.
BJP insiders say the meeting clearly proved that the Congress was the B-team of the TRS and both had joined hands to defeat the BJP. They said attacks on Dalits were nothing new under the TRS regime over the past seven years and Chandrashekar Rao was unwilling to meet Opposition leaders on these issues despite several requests, but giving appointment all of a sudden to Congress MLAs within minutes on Friday showed 'well planned political strategy' of the Chief Minister.