Telangana Health Minister stripped of portfolio

Amid Covid-19, Telangana health minister Etela Rajender stripped of portfolio following land grab charges

Etela is one of the senior most TRS leaders and was closely associated with KCR

Health Minister Eatala Rajender's portfolio was transferred to Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Saturday. Credit: Twitter Photo/@Eatala_Rajender

Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao took away the health and family welfare portfolio from Etela Rajender following allegations of land grabbing of about 100 acres by the minister and his associates in Medak.

Etela is one of the senior most TRS leaders and was closely associated with KCR, as the CM is popularly known, since the inception of the party in 2001. However, the equation has soured between the two for some time now and the minister had on few occasions made comments seen as in defiance of the party leadership.

The Saturday decision came a day after the CM has ordered two probes - one by the Medak district administration and the other by the vigilance DGP Purnachandra Rao - “to find out the truth in the allegations of land encroachments at Achampet in Masaipet mandal of Medak district.”

The investigation is based on the complaints of few weaker section farmers from Masaipet that the minister's men had, over the past few months, illegally captured their government assigned lands. The land is said to be used for establishing a poultry industry. Meanwhile, former Medak district administrators told the media that the minister had put pressure on them to regularise the lands.

Responding to the developments, Etela said that the allegations are part of a planned conspiracy against him. Stating that he has not committed any transgressions in the land matter, Etela said he is ready for a sitting judge probe too.

“This seems more of a preconceived action, rather than one based on a complaint or investigation. I would respond in detail on the 100 acre land grab charges after the probe report is out. People are enraged over my character assassination like this. A price has to be paid in the future ...” Etela told reporters.

A leader from the OBC Mudiraj community, Etela has been an MLA since 2004. He presently represents the Huzurabad assembly constituency.

Telangana BJP chief Bandi Sanjay demanded CM KCR to take action against other TRS ministers, legislators too facing land grab and corruption charges.

Health department with KCR

While KCR kept the health and family welfare department with him, Etela now remains as a minister without a portfolio.

The sudden change came amidst the Covid-19 case surge, and Telangana is reporting over seven thousand cases lately.

On Saturday, the CM instructed the state chief secretary Somesh Kumar to “to be very cautious about Corona-virus spread in the state,” and asked him to review the situation thrice a day. The CM also instructed the top official to ensure availability of Remdesivir, Oxygen, hospital beds and vaccines.