Rajya Sabha member-elect K. Chiranjeevi on Tuesday played down the controversy over Endowments Minister C. Ramchandraiah's comment that former Praja Rajyam leaders were not getting proper recognition and respect in the Congress saying it was nothing but a storm in a tea cup.

Addressing a press conference, Mr. Chiranjeevi said he had spoken to Mr. Ramachandraiah and that he had only meant lack of coordination between former Praja Rajyam and Congress leaders at the local level and not unhappiness at higher level as was made out to be. “There are no differences as such,” he said appealing to media not to read too much between the lines.

Merger between two parties did not happen spontaneously, he said. It was a slow process and integration of cadre and leaders took quite some time. There were bound to be some small problems and he was sure that intervention by Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and PCC president Botcha Satyanarayana would solve such minor hiccups.

‘Merger unconditional'

Mr. Chiranjeevi said the merger of the two parties was unconditional and the former PR had benefited from it. Congress high command had given him lot of respect. If asked by the high command, he was prepared to take the responsibility of carrying campaign in the coming by-elections to 18 Assembly constituencies.

He clarified that he would resign as MLA on the last day of the budget session of the Assembly on March 29. For him the Assembly was a political school that taught him the nuances of the craft. It was a rich experience for a person who was always confined to the world of glamour.

Among those from whom he had learnt and drew inspiration were former Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, former Finance Minister K. Rosaiah, leader of the Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu and floor leaders of other parties, especially Akbaruddin Owaisi (MIM), who was his “bench mate”, he said. Enthusiastic workers of PR burst crackers while Mr. Chiranjeevi met the staff of the Assembly.