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Chiranjeevi to help Congress in Rajya Sabha polls !

New Delhi: Actor-politician Chiranjeevi met Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi on Saturday and discussed the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections. Chiranjeevi-led Praja Rajyam Party is most likely to vote for the Congress in the Rajya Sabha elections.

He said Sonia wanted PRP to withdraw its Rajya Sabha candidate and vote in its favour.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi requested me to withdraw our candidate from the Rajya Sabha polls. I told her that I will discuss the issue among party leaders and get back in two days,” he told reporters after his 30-minute meeting at 10, Janpath.

In a significant remark, the actor-turned politician said since Sonia had personally requested him to reconsider the party decision, “I will have to consider (her request).”

In return, sources say, the Congress has agreed to back Chiranjeevi’s party in its strongholds in the Krishna Godavari region of Andhra.

Chiranjeevi also ruled out a merger with the Congress but hinted that there could be an alliance between the two parties in Andhra Pradesh.

“Such questions do not arise,” said Chiranjeevi when asked about rumours of PRP merging with the Congress.

The meeting between Sonia and Chiranjeevi assumes significance in view of the open defiance of YS Jaganmohan Reddy, who is going ahead with his ‘Odarpu’ yatra despite being asked by the Congress leadership not to do so.

If PRP, which has 16 members in the 294-member Assembly, fields a candidate, a contest will be thrust upon the Congress, which it does not want in view of eruption of factionalism in the state unit after the death of late chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy.

The party also does not want to take any chance in the wake of Jaganmohan’s defiance, who is said to have the support of several MLAs, MPs and ministers.

With 156 MLAs, Congress can get four members elected to the Upper House on its own, but it wants to avoid a contest.

Chiranjeevi said he would come to the capital in the first week of June to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss about the Polavaram project.

Congress leaders feel an understanding with Chiranjeevi’s PRP will help in reining in Jaganmohan, whose defiance has led to apprehensions in the party of a possible split, if not in the near future but two years down the line.

Chiranjeevi said he also apprised Sonia Gandhi of his recent tour of the state and the response he got from the people.

“I also appealed to her to accord national status for the Polavaram irrigation project. She asked me to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and discuss this. I will meet the PM,” the actor-turned politician said.

Ahead of his meeting, Chiranjeevi held talks with senior Congress leaders Veerappa Moily and Ahmed Patel, Sonia’s political adviser. They were also present during the meeting at 10, Janpath.

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