PRP leaders disfavour merger with Cong at this stage

Hyderabad, Feb. 1 (PTI) Top leaders of Praja Rajyam Partydisfavour merging the outfit with Congress at this stage butrather want their chief K Chiranjeevi to test the waters inthe coming elections to urban local bodies and panchayati rajinstitutions before taking a final call.

The dominant view that emerged at a PRP meeting today wasthat the time is not ripe for merging the party with Congressstraightaway. "We should strengthen our friendship right nowand consider merger at a later stage", said party sources.

The PRP meeting came a day after Defence Minister andsenior Congress leader A K Antony had met Chiranjeevi here anddiscussed the political situation in the state.

Party MLAs and members of the Political AffairsCommittee, who met at Chiranjeevi�s residence this afternoonwere understood to have suggested to PRP President that hetread cautiously and not get carried away by Congress'' olivebranch, like it had happened during the elections to GreaterHyderabad Municipal Corporation in 2009.

"Let us strengthen our friendship further and assess theground situation. Only then, we take a final call on merger,"the MLAs and PAC members said.

Nine MLAs and about five PAC members attended themeeting, party sources said.

Chiranjeevi, who took part in the meeting for a briefperiod before leaving for his assembly constituency Tirupati,is understood to have asked his party colleagues to come upwith a concrete suggestion in tune with ground realities intheir respective districts. PTI DBV�It is an established fact that we are strong in districts ofcoastal Andhragiven the caste equations. The same may not hold good if wemerge PRP withCongress at this stage. This could be detrimental particularlyin districtslike East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna and Guntur,� amember of the PRP�s PAC told PTI.

Moreover, the PRP MLAs pointed out that the lower-level cadrein theirrespective constituencies was not positively inclined to amerger with theCongress straightaway, given the fact that it had playedtruant in the past,the PAC member pointed out.

It was the Congress that extended a hand of friendship to thePRP on the eveof the GHMC polls but later backtracked following protestsfrom its ranks.

It was a shocking blow that left the PRP distraught.

The Congress subsequently sought to undo the damage byinviting Chiranjeevifor a one-on-one meeting Sonia Gandhi on the eve of thebiennial electionsto Rajya Sabha last year. That meeting between the two endedon a positivenote, pushing the PRP closer to the Congress.

Since then Chiranjeevi changed his tone and never lost anoccasion inpromising to stand by the Congress �in the interest of thepeople.�

The decision he takes now on furthering the relationship withthe Congresswill spell Chiranjeevi�s political future in Andhra Pradesh.


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