Special Correspondent

Takes the line that panchayat poll outcome will not have any impact on statehood campaign

Hyderabad: Senior TRS leader and Union Minister A. Narendra met Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy on Saturday morning to discuss panchayat poll alliance matters but later denied that the topic ever came up in the 15-minute meeting.

Speaking to the media later, Mr. Narendra said his meeting was to discuss the pending railway project of Medak with the Chief Minister.

However, sources said Mr. Narendra's visit had a different purpose -- that of seeking Congress support in the panchayat elections too and continuing the alliance. There is pressure on the TRS leadership from within to retain the alliance despite the opposition to it by former Minister Nayani Narasimha Reddy.

Rebel trouble

Rebel TRS MLAs -- T. Jayaprakash Reddy, D. Srinivasa Rao, G. Mukunda Reddy and B. Shara Rani -- have already joined hands with the Congress and have decided to work for the latter's victory. At their instance, their followers have switched loyalty to the Congress.

Staff Reporter adds from Sangareddy: Mr. Narendra was categorical in saying that the performance of the TRS in the panchayat elections could not be regarded as a referendum on its statehood stand.

Addressing presspersons, the senior TRS leader pointed out that elections based on local issues would not have any impact on macro issues such as formation of a separate State.

Mr. Narendra said the TRS would consider alliance with the Congress in the panchayat elections at a later date. He said that it was the Chief minister who had been repeatedly harping on his party's willingness to work with TRS in the local body elections. Setting the conditions for alliance, Mr. Narendra said the Congress should stop encouraging entry of the TRS cadre into its fold at least till the competition of the elections and the alliance should be transparent.

TDP main enemy

He said the Telugu Desam was and would be the main enemy of the TRS. He advised TDP leaders to shift their party headquarters from Banjara Hills in Hyderabad to either Vijayawada or Guntur as after the panchayat elections there would no trace of the TDP in the region. He was also equally critical about the BJP's newfound enthusiasm about Telangana.

Mr. Narendra, who expressed confidence that Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee would submit his report immediately after his arrival from China basing on which UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi would announce her decision.

He said Mr. Mukherjee's `delaying tactics' had further stretched the process. He alleged that the latter had misled Ms. Gandhi on the number of parties supporting the cause of Telangana.