Congress bends, ‘open to TRS alliance’

Congress bends, ‘open to TRS alliance’

Paswan fresh in mind, party softens ‘merger-or-fight’ stance

Apprehensive of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhar Rao “doing a Ramvilas Paswan” in Andhra Pradesh, a jittery Congress on Wednesday gave up its “merger-or-fight” stance vis-a-vis the TRS, saying that it is also open to an alliance.

While stressing that the TRS had promised to merge with the Congress after the creation of Telangana state, AICC general secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh Digvijaya Singh said the party was ready to have an alliance with the TRS and would form a group of senior leaders to explore this option. It was a significant departure from the stance the party took in its negotiations with TRS leaders in the days after Parliament’s approval of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill.

The TRS, which rejected the demand for merger Monday, chose to play it hard with the Congress making no reaction to its latest overtures. “Our committee will meet tomorrow to discuss who we should go with. The committee has been authorised to decide all pre- or post-poll alliances,” Keshav Rao, who heads the TRS panel on alliances, told The Indian Express. Asked if there is a possibility of the TRS going with the BJP, he said, “Nothing has been decided. I have also heard Digvijaya Singh talking about alliance but there are no talks yet. We haven’t discussed anything.”

During KCR’s meetings with top Congress leaders after Parliament’s approval of the Telangana Bill, the ruling party had told him categorically that he should abide by his stand about merger with the Congress after the creation of Telangana or “we should fight against each other”. The Congress had also rejected KCR’s demand that elections should be conducted for two separate states and before that he be appointed CM of Telangana if the TRS were to merge with the Congress. Even as the TRS rejected the demand for merger and set up a committee under Keshava Rao to explore the option of alliances, the Congress was preparing to go it alone in Telangana.

On Wednesday, however, the Congress blinked as the TRS reportedly started exploring the option of allying with the BJP, which had also supported Telangana Bill. The BJP was said to be keen as it would provide the party a launching pad in Telangana. With TDP reportedly reconsidering its option of an alliance with BJP in residuary Andhra state, the latter may find a more receptive partner in the TRS in Telangana.

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