In what is being construed as a dilution of his stand on the issue of his party’s merger with the Congress, Telangana Rashtra Samithi president K. Chandrasekhar Rao said in New Delhi on Tuesday that “the issue of merger will arise only after the Telangana Bill is passed in Parliament”.

This is quite different from the stand he has been spelling out against merger with the Congress both at public and party meetings in the recent times. The latest instance was his address to party leaders and trainers on Monday when he dismissed the talk of merger and told them to go to people in a campaign mode to drive home the message. However, KCR disowned these reports at an interaction with the reporters in Delhi.

It is believed that this tough stand was part of the game of political one-upmanship between the TRS and the ruling Congress. The TRS seemingly hardened its stand on its merger with the Congress ever since the media started publishing reports on the Centre’s plans to accord Union Territory status to Hyderabad.

Prior to that, the TRS was clear in its stand that it was not against the merger once Telangana was granted statehood. However, once the proposal of UT status to Hyderabad started making rounds in the public domain, the TRS leadership started treading carefully talking about the necessity of its role in the reconstruction of Telangana and the loss it would suffer either by merging or allying with a party whose prospects were poor nationwide.

On Tuesday, Mr. Chandrasekhar Rao and team had a meeting with the Group of Ministers (GoM) in Delhi. TRS Legislature Party leader E. Rajender said here that the demand of Seemandhra leaders for UT status to Hyderabad was for legalising their illegal land transactions and illegally made property/assets in and around Hyderabad. “We won’t keep quiet if the Centre tries to tinker with a complete Telangana by imposing conditions on Hyderabad,” Mr. Rajender said adding that all those employees from Seemandhra regions who had secured government jobs in Telangana illegally would have to return to their native regions.