Launches party’s election campaign in Karimnagar

: Telangana Rashtra Samithi president K. Chandrasekhar Rao urged people to give mandate to his party to enable it to join the third alternative comprising a confederation of regional parties committed to secularism.

Sounding the bugle for the general elections, the TRS chief told a well-attended public meeting here on Sunday that the TRS is a 100 per cent secular party that would never join hands with fundamentalist forces. He said the question of TRS joining the NDA or the UPA does not arise. In one of his first public meetings after the grant of Telangana State, Mr. Rao said Third Front leaders like Naveen Patnaik, J. Jayalalithaa and Mamata Banerjee were in touch with him.

He appealed to people not to be confused about the TRS stand amidst reports of a strong BJP wave across the country. He said the BJP would not cross the 200 mark in the Lok Sabha, adding that there was no truth in the claims that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance would form the government at the Centre. Incidentally, it was at this venue -- SRR Government College grounds -- that Mr. Rao had addressed his first public meeting after forming the TRS in 2001.

Mr. Rao strongly pitched for TRS victory in the elections as people have high aspirations in a separate Telangana State. That was the reason why the TRS had decided to retain its identity and not merge itself with the Congress, he pointed out. “We re-assessed the situation and decided against the merger,” he said, adding that it was also the mandate given by the people to the TRS. “So, we are in the contest,” he said.

Mr. Rao recalled the circumstances leading to taking up the separate Telangana movement in 2001 as a frail-looking man who was heckled by leaders like Chandrababu Naidu. It was in this context that he himself along with Telangana ideologue Prof. Jayashankar, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha president Shibu Soren and others addressed the meeting in May 2001, he said. Mr. Naidu had laughed at him, saying the TRS would be a non-starter. “But here we are who got Telangana State,” he thundered.