TRS chief meets Keshava Rao after indications that Nagarkurnool MP Manda Jagannath would join his party

Within days of his assurance that sitting MPs from other parties will be given tickets by the TRS in the next general elections, K. Chandrasekhar Rao on Sunday called on former Congress Working Committee member K. Keshava Rao to formally invite them to join his party.

Capping a day of swift political developments after indications by Nagarkurnool MP Manda Jagannath that he was planning to join the TRS, Mr. Chandrasekhar Rao drove to the residence of Dr. Keshava Rao.

Sets deadline for leaders

The talk of the switchover gained credence after the Nagarkurnool MP held a one-on-one meeting with KCR at the latter’s residence on Saturday night. Before the TRS chief arrived, Panchayat Raj Minister K. Jana Reddy met Dr. Rao along with Dr. Jagannath to dissuade the MP from quitting the Congress.

The TRS chief, during his 90-minute meeting, obviously stepped up pressure on the Congressmen to join the TRS while predicting that the Lok Sabha elections could be advanced. He wanted the Congress MPs to announce their decision positively by April 27 when the TRS holds its foundation day meeting in Armoor town in Nizamabad district. Sources in the TRS said that KCR is keen on getting about 12 MPs and MLAs from the Congress and TDP to join the party on that day.

Two more in line?

Dr. Keshava Rao reportedly told him that a meeting of Congress MPs would be convened on Monday or Tuesday. Congress sources said Dr. Jagannath has almost made up his mind to join the TRS while there is strong speculation that S. Rajaiah (Warangal) and G. Vivekanand (Peddapalli) could be the next in the line. Dr. Vivekananda denied such a possibility.

Sources said that some other MPs – Gutha Sukhender Reddy, Komatireddy Rajgopal Reddy, MadhuYaskhi and Ponnam Prabhakar -- may not fall for the TRS chief’s offer. Instead they favoured Congress leaders to take the lead in floating a front or a regional outfit to fight for the statehood cause.

They are hopeful that Union Minister S. Jaipal Reddy would take the initiative. They felt that if Mr. Jaipal Reddy indeed takes the lead, several Ministers, MPs and MLAs would rally behind him. At the same time, many leaders maintain that Mr. Jaipal Reddy is unlikely to take the plunge.

Keshava’s ultimatum

Dr. Keshava Rao confirmed to reporters later that KCR had invited Congress leaders to join the TRS. “KCR is surely the face of the Telangana movement. It is time for the Congress high command to take a decision on Telangana or the elected representatives will be forced to take their own decision,” he said.