New Delhi, Feb 6 (PTI) Congress in Andhra Pradeshtoday got a major boost today when actor Chiranjeevi announcedthe merger of his Praja Rajyam Party with it that could comeas a breather for the ruling party facing rebellion from Y SJaganmohan Reddy and the sensitive Telangana issue.
After weeks of back channel talks between the twoparties, actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi, a strong votaryof a united Andhra Pradesh, met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi ather residence here for over 50 minutes and finalised hismerger plans that could bring new political alignment in thestate.
"We have decided to merge the PRP with the Congress.
It is in the best interests of the state of Andhra Pradesh...
it is an historic occasion for (the state and the twoparties)," he told reporters outside Gandhi''s residence.
During the meeting, attended by Congress leaders A KAntony and Veerappa Moily, 55-year-old Chiranjeevi said hediscussed with Sonia the current political situation in thestate and various developmental projects that will benefitpeople.
Moily said: "We welcome him. He has joined theCongress family from today."
Chiranjeevi''s PRP, which was launched in August, 2008,has 18 MLAs in the 294-member Andhra Pradesh Assembly and hisdecision to merge with Congress can give its government somestability in case the 25 party MLAs loyal to Jagan break fromit.
The actor also brings with him a considerable chunk ofbackward Kapu community votes spread mainly in coastal Andhraand Rayalaseema regions, but has only negligible in theTelangana area where a strong separatist movement is currentlyon.
Troubled by the revolt of Jagan, son of late ChiefMinister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, the Congress had removed theageing veteran K Rosaiah and brought in a much younger KiranKumar Reddy and had been working on other ways to strengthenthe party.
MLAs loyal to Reddy have been attending rallies andfasts organised by the young leader defying the party HighCommand.
The PRP has 18 MLAs in the 294-member state Assemblyand the Jagan camp claims to have the support of at least 25MLAs. By roping in Chiranjeevi, the Congress, which has 155MLAs, may be able to face a trial of strength in the Assemblymore confidently.
Of the 18 PRP MLAs, two are with Jagan and one is insupport of Telangana movement.
Chiranjeevi said PRP''s merger with Congress was agreedupon without any pre-conditions as he was bothered "only aboutthe betterment of the poor, downtroden and deprived sectionsof the society."
"No. Not all. I don''t have such motives. I will beworking for the people as I am (doing) now," he said, replyingto a volley of queries whether he would be part of the stategovernment. (More) PTI ETB VSC