Telangana issue: TRS raises 'stake' for merger with Congress in Andhra Pradesh

Written by PTI | Hyderabad | Updated: Feb 19 2014, 21:04pm hrs
Complicating further the matters for Congress, smarting under the backlash from Seemandhra leaders over passing of Telangana Bill, the TRS reportedly wants more share of seats in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh as its pre-condition for merger with the party.

According to sources here today, the TRS wants at least half of the 17 Lok Sabha seats and one-third of Assembly seats in the region in the coming elections.

Though this is said to have put Congress in a tight spot, the political scene doesn't look rosy for the TRS either.

For the ruling Congress, which has 12 sitting MPs and 46 MLAs, granting the TRS' wish will be a politically-challenging task at a time when it is hoping to reap maximum dividends from the creation of Telangana state.

At least in the case of Lok Sabha seats, it will only be detrimental for the Congress to deny tickets to its sitting MPs only to please the TRS.

Congress leaders here fear that it could trigger dissidence on a large-scale within the party if the TRS' demand was conceded.

"If not, the TRS will not like to merge and that will be a no-win situation for us. We now need TRS more than they need us," a senior minister from Telangana, currently camping in New Delhi, said over phone after the Lok Sabha cleared the Bill today.

"Whether we can take full credit for securing Telangana state is a big question as obviously the TRS will go to town with its own claims. So, a merger is a political compulsion for us to make things even. But whether we can concede much ground to TRS in the deal is indeed a dilemma," he remarked.

The TRS, on the other hand, has already chalked out an action plan for "building a modern Telangana", positioning itself in the lead role.

In fact, many of the top TRS leaders who have been part of it since inception are averse to any "outright surrender" to the Congress after having achieved a separate state through their 13-year-old movement, sources said.

"We are in advantageous position now from which Congress is seeking to take gain. But we should get the major share of the cake," a TRS politburo member noted.

Interestingly, some of the TRS politburo members have opened a channel of talks with the BJP hoping to secure the party's tickets either for Lok Sabha or state Assembly.

"Naturally, the number of aspirants for tickets is high given the euphoric political climate for us. Those who feel can't get accommodated in the event of a merger, may obviously look for alternatives," the politburo member said, though he did not like to confirm a possible exodus of senior leaders from the TRS.

"There are certainly different lines of thought over the possible merger or alliance with the Congress and the actual course of our future action. These issues came up for discussion with our chief K Chandrasekhar Rao (in New Delhi) the other day. Once he takes a final call, many things will unfold," he added.

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