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Telangana: TRS chief’s ‘thanksgiving’ visit to Sonia Gandhi fuels speculation of merger with Congress

Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhara Rao’s thanksgiving trip to Sonia Gandhi’s residence on Sunday afternoon once again raised the question: will TRS merge with the Congress ahead of the LokSabha polls?

Accompanied with family members, Mr Rao said the meeting was just a courtesy call.

“No politics was discussed and it was only a thanksgiving call. I met Soniaji to express my gratitude for the passing of Telangana Bill in Parliament. Soniaji asked me to stay in touch with Digvijaya Singh,” said Mr Rao, popularly known as KCR.

TRS sources have indicated that an immediate merger may not be on the cards but a pre-poll alliance is likely. There are 17 LokSabha seats in the Telangana region and for Congress, fighting its toughest elections in the past 10 years, every seat would be crucial.

Aware that the Congress would try to cash in the popular sentiments in Telangana, the BJP, which too made a strong pitch for India’s 29th state, is also trying to get its share of credit.

While Venkaiah Naidu addressed the press today in Hyderabad, earlier this week, when the LokSabha was passing the Telangana Bill, BJP leader SushmaSwaraj said: “Don’t remember only Sonia amma. Also, remember this chinamma (little mother).”

KCR has been at the forefront of the Telangana movement for the last 10 years. He was a TDP leader and Deputy Speaker of Andhra Pradesh Assembly till 2001, before he quit the party and launched TRS to fight for a separate Telangana state.

TRS had joined hands with Congress for the 2004 general elections and Mr Rao was appointed the Labour Minister. The sub-regional party joined the YSR Reddy-led Congress government in Andhra Pradesh, although it quit subsequently.

Sharing power at the Centre and in the state hit Mr Rao’s credibility as the UPA government didn’t fulfill the Telangana demand despite statehood issue being part of the common minimum programme.

Mr Rao had then joined hands with TDP and become part of a “grand alliance” against Congress for the 2009 elections. But his party suffered a serious setback and won only two LokSabha seats and 10 Assembly seats in the region.

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