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KCR-Sonia meeting spurs talk of merger

A meeting between Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) president K. Chandrasekhar Rao and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday raised expectations in political circles of a possible merger or an electoral alliance between the two parties.

With the Election Commission expected to announce the general election schedule and time-table for the Andhra Pradesh Assembly poll in the first week of March, discussions for electoral match-making and mergers are on.

KCR was accompanied by his family at the meeting and expectations of an announcement were high as the Congress wants the TRS to merge with it.

The Congress general secretary in-charge of Andhra Pradesh, Digvijaya Singh, would engage the TRS chief over the next few weeks and press the merits of merger, party sources said.

However, TRS sources suggested that Mr. Rao thinks the two sides stand to gain more by fighting the election as allies rather than after a merger.

A senior leader in TRS close to Mr. Rao said the vacuum created by merger could benefit parties like the BJP, though that party has minimal presence in the Telangana region.

“If the Congress insists on a merger we would like to make sure that the rank and file which stood with the TRS through thick and thin of the movement is accommodated. The party cadre would naturally expect that our leader has a substantive say when the Telangana State government is formed,” the leader said.

The TRS chief downplayed his meeting with Ms. Gandhi, describing it as a courtesy call. “Statehood to Telangana would not have been possible but for Mrs. Gandhi’s determination,” he told journalists.

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