In a severe setback for the Congress in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday,senior party leader and former Rajya Sabha member K Keshava Rao was reported to have decided to quit the party and join the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS). Moreover,three Congress MPs from Telangana have also threatened to quit the party on Friday.
When contacted,however,Keshava Rao said he had not yet resigned but may do so depending on the Congress high commands response to their demand for a statement on separate statehood for Telangana. The Congress is a party of principles,but in Telanganas case it is not so. The party is simply not responding and we are forced to take this decision as we felt the Telangana people are being cheated. We are not doing this for any personal benefit,this is for Telangana, he said.
The three Lok Sabha members,Gaddam Vivekananda (Peddapalli),S Rajaiah (Warangal) and
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Dr Manda Jagannath (Nagarkurnool) have threatened to resign from the Congress tomorrow and join the TRS on June 2 unless the party issues a favourable statement by Thursday midnight.
All the four Congress leaders met TRS chief K Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR) at Vivekanandas residence today. While Vivekananda and Jagannath announced that they would resign from their seats and join the TRS,Rajaiah refused to comment.
If our party does not respond to our pleas for a statement,we will be forced to resign. We will wait till Friday and then resign from our seats and join the TRS. A public meeting is being held at the Nizam College Grounds on June 2 when we will formally join the TRS, said Jagannath after the meeting.
Jagannath left the TDP to join the Congress in 2009. He was reported to be miffed with the Congress leadership when he was not given a ministerial berth. Sources in the TRS said while he has been assured a ticket for next years Lok Sabha elections,Jagannath has also sought a ticket for his son.
Keshava Rao,who engineered the revolt,claimed that other Congress MPs from Telangana would also join them in the TRS if the party does not mend its ways. Of the 17 Lok Sabha seats in the Telangana region,10 are held by the Congress at present.
The Congress is indifferent to our feelings on Telangana. It is unmoved and unwilling to take any decision. We have no option but to resign from the party and join the TRS which is leading the Telangana movement. Before taking this decision,I consulted my supporters and people in my constituency, said Vivekananda.
Chandrasekhara Rao said he saw the development as a sign of all Telangana leaders coming together under one party fighting for a separate state. We welcome all of them into our party, he said. Todays meeting was also attended by KCRs MLA son K T Rama Rao and other TRS leaders.
While Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy has left for New Delhi to meet the central leadership,Congress MPs are reported to have indicated to the four leaders that they should postpone their decision till a meeting with Rahul Gandhi. Senior party leaders including APCC chief Botsa Satyanarayana are reported to have tried to convince the three MPs.
Meanwhile,sources in the state Congress said some party MPs from Telangana were joining the TRS to shore up their prospects in next years elections by trying to cash in on Telangana sympathy. They are also seeking TRS tickets for their sons and daughters,and KCR has apparently assured that those who join his party will be renominated and their relatives will also be given tickets to contest Assembly elections, said a leader.