Though stung by TRS chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s decision not to merge his party with the Congress, ruling party leaders in Telangana put on a brave face, vowing to expose the regional party’s true colours and urging cadres to be ready for elections.

Congress leaders were torn between criticising Mr. Rao for going back on his promise and some urging him to review the decision in the larger interests of development of Telangana. Monday night’s announcement prompted senior Congress leader and former Minister K. Jana Reddy to hold a meeting with his former colleagues -- D.Sridhar Babu and P.Sudarshan Reddy besides PCC vice-president Md. Ali Shabbir -- at his residence on Tuesday morning. They were later closeted in another meeting at Mr. Shabbir’s residence.

Talking to The Hindu , Mr. Shabbir said AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh had spoken to him and Mr. Jana Reddy twice to know the developments. “He promised to appraise the high command about the U turn of KCR. We have been told to extensively reach out to the people and publicise the achievement of bifurcation because of AICC president Sonia Gandhi,” he said.

Hitting out at KCR, he said: “The TRS chief is a liar and has never uttered truth,” he claimed, adding that the Congress was confident of faring well in majority of the 119 Assembly and 17 Parliamentary constituencies. Mr. Sridhar Babu said the Congress cadres knew about the true colours of KCR. “Party cadres will work with more vigour to win the elections on our own,” he said.

PCC spokesperson B. Kamalakar Rao told The Hindu that the fight will be between Congress and the TRS. “Our presence in all the 119 assembly and 17 parliamentary constituencies will be a positive factor. TRS has presence in North Telangana and it lacks cadres in South Telangana,” he said. The former MLC said central leadership was sceptical of his sincerity. Congress leaders point out that it would be a tough time for KCR to fight the elections. “He has promised tickets to four or five leaders in each constituency. It will be a tall order for him to convince them His party’s marginal presence in some districts will help the Congress as TDP and YSR Congress are seen as traitors. The BJP will be kept at a distance as the Congress and the TRS fight it out,” another leader remarked.