Hyderabad: Three senior members of the Congress in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday quit the party to join rival Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) after the Union government failed to announce the formation of a Telangana state by 30 May.

Former Congress Working Committee member Kancherla Keshava Rao and members of Parliament (MPs) G. Vivekanand and Manda Jagannatham joined the pro-Telangana outfit that is spearheading the agitation for the bifurcation of the state after the Congress leadership at the centre ignored their ultimatum.

They announced their decision after a three-hour meeting with TRS president K. Chandrasekhara Rao on Thursday.

“They (the three leaders) had lost hope in the Congress that it would grant a separate Telangana state," TRS leader K.T. Rama Rao, son of the party’s president, told reporters. Rama Rao said the three politicians will formally join the party on 2 June.

A fourth MP, S. Rajaiah, who, too, had threatened to quit the Congress, dropped his plan after the TRS leadership could not promise him a party ticket from the Warangal parliamentary constituency in the national election next year.

Keshava Rao, a longtime member of the Congress, said he was joining the TRS to “respect people’s sentiments". Rao said he will not contest assembly and parliamentary elections in 2014.

The resignations are a “survival tactic" as the leaders respond to popular sentiment on the ground, said political analyst Parsa Venkateshwar Rao, who is also an editorial consultant with the DNA newspaper. “Or they feel marginalized and neglected in the Congress," Rao said by phone.

The Congress party has 31 members in the Lok Sabha 12 of them from Telangana.

TRS has been fighting for separate statehood for the Telangana region since November 2009 when its leader Chandrasekhara Rao went on a fast.

The Congress-led Union government initially acceded to the demand and announced its intention to carve out another Telugu-speaking state only to withdraw the plan following mass resignations by lawmakers from other parts of the state.

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