Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekar Rao meets DMK President M. K. Stalin at his residence in Chennai on May 13, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Hyderabad, May 18, 2019
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is said to be in close touch with DMK leader M. K. Stalin on building the numbers for the UPA, if push comes to shove following the counting of votes on May 23.
Stalin, whose party is an ally of the Congress, is reportedly working the channels to get the support of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), who are likely to be crucial for government formation in the event the Lok Sabha elections throw up a fractured verdict.
This assumes significance in the backdrop of the TRS chief's May 13 meeting with Stalin in Chennai. Though K Chandrashekhar Rao reportedly discussed his idea of a Federal Front and urged Stalin to support the proposed alliance of regional parties, the DMK leader requested him to back the Congress for the formation of a non-BJP government.
Since Stalin has taken an initiative, the Congress leadership is believed to have felt it appropriate to entrust him with the task of holding further talks with both KCR and Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy.
Telangana has 17 Lok Sabha seats and TRS is confident of making a clean sweep with its ally All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) expected to retain Hyderabad.
Banking on her experience of the 2004 and 2009 elections when she successfully cobbled together the Congress-led alliance, Sonia Gandhi has stepped up her efforts to once again prepare the ground for the coalition.
As part of this, she has invited political heavyweights for a meeting on May 23.
Andhra Pradesh has 25 Lok Sabha seats. KCR is counting on the support of YSRCP to have joint bargaining power for the Telugu states.
Since KCR considers Telugu Desam Party (TDP) as anti-Telangana, he has thrown his weight behind YSRCP and invited it to join hte federal front.
The TDP, which pulled out of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) last year, is working for a non-BJP alliance led by the Congress.
TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu is already believed to have communicated to the Congress leadership that he will have no problem to the TRS being part of the UPA. However, he may have reservations about the Congress efforts to seek support of the YSRCP.
One of the reasons cited by Naidu for his decision to pull out of the NDA was BJP warming up to Jagan.
Since UPA may need the support of both, the Congress party is understood to have already initiated efforts to persuade Naidu to take a soft stand in the matter.
It is in this context that DMK leader Durai Murugan's meeting with Chandrababu Naidu in Amaravati on May 14 is seen as important.
TRS, which won five Lok Sabha seats in 2004, had joined the Congress-led UPA after the polls. KCR served as minister in Manmohan Singh cabinet for a couple of years before resigning over the demand for statehood to Telangana.
Though he hailed the Congress for agreeing to carve out Telangana state and enjoyed a good rapport with Sonia Gandhi, KCR was accused of betrayal by the Congress after he refused to merge his TRS with the party.
"Jagan has already made it clear that whichever party gives special category status to Andhra Pradesh will get YSRCP's support for government formation at the Centre. He has not ruled out support to the Congress," a YSRCP leader, who did not want to be identified, told IANS.
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