Antony extends invitation to Chiranjeevi to meet Sonia

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Hyderabad, Jan 31 (PTI) Defence Minister A K Antonymet Praja Rajyam Party president K Chiranjeevi at the latter''sresidence here this evening to invite him for a meeting withCongress chief Sonia Gandhi.

"The Defence Minister met our party presidentChiranjeevi on behalf of the Congress party to extend aninvitation to visit New Delhi to meet AICC president SoniaGandhi to further strengthen the relationship (between the twoparties) and work together to sub-serve the interests of thenation and Andhra Pradesh in particular," PRP PoliticalAffairs Committee member C Ramachandraiah said.

Reading out a statement at the end of the 50-minute-long meeting, he said Chiranjeevi accepted the invitation inprinciple.

"We (PRP leaders) will meet and decide the date soon,"the former MP said.

Antony, however, did not speak to the waiting mediapersonnel.

Antony, who came to Hyderabad on an undisclosedprivate visit, drove to Chiranjeevi''s Jubilee Hills residencein the company of Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee presidentD Srinivas.

There was intense speculation that Antony might havecome to persuade Chiranjeevi to join the Kiran Kumar Reddygovernment.

Three slots in the state Cabinet have been kept vacantostensibly to accommodate the PRP.

Chiranjeevi has, however, been maintaining that hisparty was not in a hurry to join the government.

He also made it clear that the PRP would support theCongress government, in case it fell short of numbers, "onlyin public interest".

Ramachandraiah, however, did not say anything moreabout the discussions between Antony and Chiranjeevi.

"They discussed the political situation in the statebut nothing was discussed about joining the Cabinet," hemaintained.

The PRP has 18 MLAs but two of them have joined therebel leader Y S Jagan''s camp while two others from Telanganahave virtually deserted the party on the statehood issue. PTIDBV

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