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TRS switches sides again

May 10: K. Chandrasekhar Rao has done it again.

The Telengana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) president today popped up at the NDA rally in Ludhiana to declare he had joined the BJP-led alliance, which has promised a Telengana state within 100 days of coming to power.

“I have joined the NDA and will try to get more parties into the fold,” said Rao, till now part of the Telugu Desam-led Opposition alliance in Andhra Pradesh (and thus, by implication, part of the third front).

This marks a second switch in two years for the former Union minister, whose six-year-old party has now been part of all the three major political formations in the country.

However, the crucial issue is not whom Rao supports today but which alliance his party supports in its letter to the President after the poll results are declared.

Although he may now be part of the NDA at the national level, Rao still appears to be in the Opposition alliance (minus the BJP) in Andhra. The TRS had seat adjustments with the Telugu Desam and the Left for the simultaneous Assembly and Lok Sabha polls on April 16 and 23.

CPM boss Prakash Karat said: “The TRS fought the election as part of the (Opposition) alliance. Let’s see what they do after May 16.”

The TRS was in the UPA from 2004 till 2007, though this was punctuated by Rao’s resignation from the ministry and Parliament in 2005, and subsequent return as MP by a huge margin, proving he could win on his own. Today he said the Congress had betrayed his party, reneging on a promise for a Telengana state.

The TRS had snapped its ties with the Congress in end-2007, when its five MPs and 26 MLAs had resigned en masse. The gamble backfired, the May 2008 by-polls returning only two of the MPs and nine of the MLAs. The TRS joined the state’s Opposition front a few months ago after a strong pro-statehood statement by the Telugu Desam — else Rao had been toying with the idea of allying with actor Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam.

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