The Praja Rajyam Party will formally merge in the Congress in the third week of April, possibly under the watchful eye of AICC president Sonia Gandhi at a public meeting.
This public meeting will in all probability will be held at Tirupati, the Assembly constituency of PRP president K Chiranjeevi.
Mr Chiranjeevi told media persons here that the merger would be formalized before the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections.
The timing of the merger is seen as an attempt to encash Mr Chiranjeevi’s popularity with the Telugu speaking population residing in that state. This was evident from the PRP chief’s words when he said that he would indeed be campaigning for the Congress in that state.
Mr Chiranjeevi revealed that Congress In-Charge of AP Affairs Ghulam Nabi Azad had urged him to formalize the merger before the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu to which he had given his acquiescence. The PRP chief also stated that Mr Azad had invited him to campaign for the party in Tamil Nadu as the party’s representative and improve the winning chances of Congress candidates.
The actor-turned-politician also revealed that he had invited Congress president Sonia Gandhi to the public meeting in which the merger would be formalized. He said, “Soniaji has accepted my offer and said that she may participate.”
When asked if he would join the Union Cabinet, Mr Chiranjeevi said that the topic did not crop up during his discussions with Mr Azad or with Ms Sonia Gandhi’s personal advisor Ahmed Patel.
Asked to reveal his role in the Congress, the former actor said that with the merger, the PRP will cease to exist and he would be a Congress member. This, he said, would mean that he would be bound by the rules and regulations of the Congress.
Mr Chiranjeevi further stated that his party MLAs did not defy the Whip issued in the elections to the Legislative Council. “They strictly followed the whip issued by the Congress party in the Legislative Council elections and did not resort to any cross-voting,” Mr Chiranjeevi stated.
Earlier in the day, he had met Ms Sonia Gandhi’s personal advisor Ahmed Patel and then with Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad. The leaders thrashed out the nitty-gritty of the merger process.