I-PAC deal with TRS leaves Telangana Congress leaders baffled: ‘Confusing signals’

“I wonder what Prashant Kishor’s advice for us is because he has apparently advised the AICC that Congress should tie-up with (its rival) YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh. He and his organisation are advisors for the TRS and Congress… the signals are confusing,’’ said a Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) leader.

TPCC president A Revanth Reddy said he has been assured by the AICC that there would be no tie-up with any party in Telangana. However, TPCC leaders, MLAs and MPs say they are besieged with calls from Congress members and workers seeking clarity on whether the party is tying up with the TRS for the Assembly elections which are due next year.

TPCC chairperson Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka admitted to The Indian Express that Congress leaders in the state are clueless about Kishor’s position. “Maybe there will be some clarity after the party decides whether he will join or not. We got to know from media reports that the I-PAC, the organisation Kishor created, will be working with the TRS. We need more clarity on all this,’’ he said.

TRS spokesperson and Member of the Legislative Council, T Bhanu Prasad Rao, said the party has engaged the I-PAC for elections but denied any tie-up with the Congress. “We do not need to tie up with any party. There is no understanding or alliance with the Congress. IPAC has been working with the TRS for some time, but now it has been decided to continue with that arrangement irrespective of Prashant Kishor’s current affiliations. He visited us during the weekend to clarify that he will work with the TRS in Telangana, and with the Congress elsewhere in the country. This arrangement will continue even if he joins the Congress,’’ Rao said.

The I-PAC was founded by Kishor, but he has in the recent past maintained that he holds no official position in the firm and claims it to be an independent entity.

The BJP, meanwhile, is already dubbing the arrangement a “tie-up between the Congress and TRS”. Sources in the party say the development could be a sign that Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao may advance the elections like he had done in the first term — Assembly elections in the state were held in December 2018 though they were due in April-May of 2019.

BJP chief spokesperson K Krishna Sagar Rao said, “Parties opposed to the BJP are in utter disarray, that is why Prashant Kishor will be advising both the TRS and the Congress. We think it is a TRS-Congress alliance. They did this out of sheer frustration. They are disillusioned by the success of the BJP in the recent Assembly elections. This arrangement makes it impossible for a third front to emerge to oppose the BJP. In Telangana, we will be fighting against the TRS-Congress alliance. It gives us an additional advantage. I am wondering what (TPCC president) Revanth Reddy will do now. Will he help the Congress be a tailender alliance partner for the TRS?.’’

Apart from the TRS, I-PAC also has potential projects in the pipeline with Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh.

In May 2021, Kishor had his first serious set of talks with the Congress. He met Sonia Gandhi even while he and the I-PAC were working with the Trinamool Congress, the Congress’s rival, for the West Bengal Assembly polls.

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