Hyderabad: In what could be a testimony to Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) president K Chandrashekar Rao’s commitment towards separate Telangana State, former President Pranab Mukherjee has disclosed that KCR did not insist on any specific portfolio, while joining UPA government at the Centre and appealed to the veteran Congress leader to consider separate Telangana State.
Pranab Mukherjee made a reference to TRS chief K Chandrashekar Rao in his book ‘The Coalition Years 1996-2012.’ It may be mentioned here that the TRS had joined UPA-I government during 2004 and KCR was made Union Minister for Labour and Employment.
Pranab Mukherjee, the then Finance Minister, was given the task of accommodating the coalition partners in the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Cabinet.
Mukherjee said the formula he worked out was that political parties with a minimum five Lok Sabha seats would get a Cabinet rank Minister. Shibu Soren of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, was given Coal Ministry as was asked. Soren, who was entitled to get one Cabinet Minister’s post, had asked for another post which Mukharjee declined.
When Mukherjee asked KCR about the choice of the portfolio, the TRS leader simply left it to him. In his book, the former President dedicated one paragraph to TRS chief. Pranab Mukherjee wrote, “In the context of TRS participation, KCR told me, Pranabji, you know my ambition; I want a separate Telangana. Which portfolio you give me is not important.
Whatever you give, I will gladly accept. But for God's sake, please consider a separate Telangana.”
The TRS leaders in the State said that Pranab Mukherjee’s mention about KCR should be an eye-opener to the Opposition parties, who levelled allegations against their party chief. Peddapally MP B Suman said, “That’s the commitment of a dedicated leadership…hats off to our leader.”
A senior leader in the party, who is close to KCR, recalled that during 2004, KCR as the Union minister forced the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to include the assurance of separate statehood for Telangana in the Presidential address. This ensured that Telangana issue was officially taken up by the government at that time, added the leader.