The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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UPA ginger group takes form

New Delhi, Dec. 29: Wracked by dissent and rattled by a debacle in local elections, the Telengana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) has indicated that it would form a ginger group of non-Congress, non-Left parties in the UPA to act as a “pressure lobby”.

TRS president and Union labour minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao claimed that three constituents ' Lalu Prasad’s RJD, Sharad Pawar’s NCP and Shibu Soren’s JMM -- had agreed “informally” that there was a need for the non-Left parties to play the role of a watchdog and ensure that the promises in the common minimum programme were fulfilled.

Rao said the proposed “pressure” group would give suggestions to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. “There is no politics and conspiracy in this. We all want the government to continue in power for five years and do well. We are doing this on a positive note,” he added.

Sonia, too, stayed upbeat on the stability of the government and ruled out the possibility of a mid-term election. In an interview that will be telecast in full tomorrow on a news channel, the Congress president said: “We went into the coalition very consciously”, worked out the common minimum programme and passed important pieces of legislation in conjunction with the allies.

The TRS chief said the group would meet in January to take stock of how the “coalition dharma” was followed and implemented in the past 20 months.

Observers believe that Rao’s enterprise has more to do with his eagerness to reassert his primacy within the TRS. Sections of the party had blamed him for “compromising” on a separate Telengana state to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh once he became a minister.

RJD sources said while Lalu Prasad had given an “in-principle” endorsement to the ginger group, the railway minister would do nothing to unsettle the ruling coalition.

As for Pawar, the Congress feels that he has little to complain about because one-third of his MPs are ministers.

Soren’s interest in the ginger group is being seen as part of the pressure tactics to re-induct him in the cabinet.

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