By-polls not a referandum on Telangana Reddy

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Hyderabad, May 13 (UNI) Maintaining that May 29 byelections for four Lok Sabha and 18 Assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh cannot be seen as a referandum on the Telangana issue, Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy today said the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) had thrust the by-polls ''unnecessarily'' on the people, bringing to halt developmental programmes and welfare schemes in that region.

Participating in a meet-the-press programme organised by the Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists, he asked, ''where is the question of referandum when the Congress has already recognised the Telangana sentiment and is striving to evolve a consensus on the issue.'' The byelections are fought on multiple issues and not on one'', Mr Reddy said.

Recalling that the TRS had agreed in writing with the Congress for the constitution of the Second States Reorganisation Commission on the eve of the 2004 general election, he dismissed as ''unviable argument'', the TRS projecting the byelections in more than one-thirds of the constituencies in Telangana as a referandum on the issue.

''While he (TRS chief) is asking for it (statehood), we are striving to find a solution to the issue,'' he said.

Blaming the TRS for putting hurdles in the creation of the second SRC, the CM said, ''had he agreed to it, the issue could have been sorted out by now.'' The Congress was still ready for the constitution of Second SRC if all parties agreed, he added.

Expressing satisfaction over implementation of all major poll promises, including free power to farmers, he hoped that his government's developmental efforts would ensure the party's victory in the by-epolls.

''We have not only implemented various promises made to the people but introduced new welfare measures, including rice at Rs two-a-kg, proving our ''credibility, compassion and courage'' to improve the lot of the people.'' The TDP, when in power, had gone back on its major promises, including subsidised rice and power schemes and implementation of total prohibition, he alleged, adding that after branding the BJP ''communal'', the TDP had alligned with that party in 1998 to encash on the sympathy wave for the Vajpayee government, which fell by one vote in the Lok Sabha.

Attributing the unprecedented inflation to four-fold increase in price of crude oil in the international market from 36 USD when the Vajpayee Government was in power, he said the Centre was taking all needed steps to mitigate the sufferings of the people. To control price rise, his government had decided to provide rice at Rs 2 per kg to a vast majority of people, he added.

The income of various sections of people, including peasants, had increased over a period, Mr Reddy claimed, adding that the government had ensured Rs 80 to Rs 100 wages per day for every landless labourer under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP).

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