Not to join Kiran Kumar Reddy government
Actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi, who with much fanfare launched the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) in 2008 as “an alternative to the Congress and Telugu Desam Party” in Andhra Pradesh and “to protect the poor and social justice and fight corruption” on Sunday announced the PRP's merger with the Congress “without any pre-condition.”
A staunch supporter of united Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Chiranjeevi also announced, after meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi here for over 30 minutes, that the PRP, which had 18 MLAs in the Assembly, would not join the Congress government led by Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy.
A representative of the majority Kappu community and hailing from the West Godavari district (in coastal Andhra Pradesh), Mr. Chiranjeevi is an MLA from Tirupati.
After meeting Ms. Gandhi, the actor told journalists that the decision was taken keeping in mind the “best interests” of the people of Andhra Pradesh as the PRP and the Congress fought for social justice.
The Law and Justice Minister and in-charge of Andhra Pradesh Congress affairs M. Veerappa Moily, who was present at the meeting along with Defence Minister and senior Congress leader A.K. Antony (who brokered the merger by holding talks with Mr. Chiranjeevi in Hyderbad on Monday last) said: “Mr. Chiranjeevi has now become a member of the Congress family. I am quite happy.”
Asked whether the move was to counter the threat posed by the former Congress MP from Kadapa, Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, who claimed the support of at least 25 Congress MLAs and two MLAs each from the TDP and the PRP, Mr. Moily shot back: “We are not against anybody. The move is just to strengthen the Congress.”
Though the PRP gained as many as 18 seats in the 2009 Assembly elections in the State within nine months of its launch with a big bang in Tirupati, Mr. Chiranjeevi's decision to merge it with the Congress was seen by political pundits as an opportunity to get “mutual benefit.”
The PRP extended its support to the Congress during the biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha held last year.