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TRS-Cong merger off

Hyderabad, March 3: Telangana spearhead TRS today decided not to merge with the Congress, saying it would remain independent to “redeem its commitment” to the more than thousand martyrs who sacrificed their lives in the struggle for a separate state.

The party, however, kept options open for alliances, including with the Congress, the outfit’s chief told reporters waiting outside the air-conditioned auditorium at TRS Bhavan where some 100 leaders brainstormed over what the future course should be.

K. Chandrasekhar Rao said the party would set up a five-member committee to decide on alliances.

It was Rao who had said earlier in the day that his Telangana Rashtra Samiti wouldn’t merge with the Congress despite pressure from some senior central and state leaders of the national party that the Sonia Gandhi-led UPA had kept its word on bifurcating Andhra Pradesh.

“The TRS is at the crossroads of fulfilling the dreams of four crore Telangana people,” he said before the meeting got under way. “The TRS will remain independent and strive to fight for the cause of its people and redeem the commitment it made to the 1,300-odd martyrs who sacrificed their lives for achieving Telangana.”

It was Rao again who announced the formal decision when he emerged from the meeting late this evening. “I got thousands of SMSes and emails against a merger,” he said.

TRS sources said one reason the outfit had decided not to merge was the absence of a special category status for Telangana, though one has been announced for the residuary Andhra.

Another sore point was Delhi’s Hyderabad House, which the TRS wanted. The external affairs ministry now owns the property, once the residence of the Nizam of Hyderabad.

The sources also pointed out that the TRS would be the voice of Telangana as the new state would be born only after the upcoming national elections.

TRS leaders said none in the Congress had any “vision” for the new state. “In the absence of that, if the TRS still bends the way the Congress wants, the whole purpose of achieving a Telangana state will be lost,” Madhusudhanachari, a senior Rao aide, told reporters.

Others said regional parties were expected to play a key role in national politics and it was important for the TRS to retain its identity.

The fear of being weighed down by anti-incumbency if it tied up with the Congress also possibly played on the minds of TRS leaders.