Idea is to wrest the initiative from rival parties in the coming elections

Rayala-Telangana may, after all the protests, may become a reality as the AICC’s top brass had forged a ‘secret pact’ with leaders from Kurnool and Anantapur on merging the two districts with Telangana.

This is also evident from the carefully worded resolution passed by the Congress Working Committee on the formation of Telangana and AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh’s statement that a Group of Ministers would take a call on the demand for inclusion of more districts in Telangana State. Highly placed sources told The Hindu that Mr. Digvijay made these observations only after extracting an assurance from leaders of the two districts and some key persons in Telangana. A top AICC functionary telephoned Ministers from Kurnool and Anantapur and informed them of the plan to merge the two districts with a view to ensuring that there were 147 Assembly and 21 Lok Sabha seats each in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Two Ministers – T. G. Venkatesh and Erasu Pratap Reddy -- who were strong votaries of united State, began to raise the concerns of Rayalaseema people and suggested formation of Greater Rayalaseema. The real intention, sources said, was to pave the way for Rayala-Telangna. There are others, who are not averse to the idea, but were afraid of openly backing the move, fearing backlash from their constituents.

Seeking anonymity, the source said Rayala-Telangana was very much on the cards. “Announcement of separate Telangana State with 10 districts is only to pacify leaders from the region. The Congress did not want to rub people of Anantapur and Kurnool as well as leaders of the TRS on the wrong side by announcing its merger with Telangana,” the sources said.

Congress circles noted that having two States with 21 Lok Sabha seats each would make sense. The party would gain political mileage by marginalising the TDP and the YSR Congress in Rayalaseema and confining them to Kadapa and Chittoor districts. Secondly, it is sure to gain the support of the Reddy community and Muslims in its effort to contain the rise of the BJP in Telangana. Congress leaders are concerned that the BJP was gaining ground in Telangana. Moreover, TRS leaders inimical to merger with the Congress could defect to the BJP. In such a scenario, the Congress is eyeing the Reddy-Muslim vote bank in Telangana to come to power.