Telangana Health Minister Eatala Rajender was removed from the post on Saturday following allegations of land grabbing. Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao will take over the post. The move comes at a time when the state is reporting a high number of COVID-19 cases.
A statement from Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan’s office reads: “On the advice of the Chief Minister of Telangana, the Governor has approved the transfer of the Medical, Health Welfare portfolio from Eatala Rajender to the Chief Minister with immediate effect.”
On April 30 evening, several Telugu channels, including the TRS-owned T News, reported that several farmers from Medak district had accused Eatala of forcibly occupying their land on the outskirts of Achampet village in Masaipet Mandal. The farmers reportedly complained to Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao that Eatala and his followers had allegedly forcibly taken over nearly 100 acres of their assigned lands to expand a hatchery owned by the Health Minister’s family.
Soon after the allegations surfaced in the media, the Chief Minister’s office announced that CM K Chandrasekhar Rao had ordered a probe into the allegations. The CM has instructed Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar to order an inquiry led by the Medak District Collector. Director General (Vigilance and Enforcement) Purnachandra Rao has also been instructed to investigate the allegations.
Within hours, Eatala held a press conference on April 30 night denying these allegations. Calling the media reports a pre-planned attack to assassinate his character and malign his image on the public, he welcomed the CM’s decision to order a probe. “I also demand there should be a probe led by a sitting judge,” Eatala said.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, tense situation prevailed in Warangal’s Kamalapur, the native village of Eatala. Fearing law and order problems, police were deputed in the village. His followers also blocked the highway in Shamirpet to register their protest against KTR, the working president of TRS and MP Santosh, a relative of the Chief Minister, alleging that it was a planned campaign to oust Eatala.
Eatala is the second Health Minister to be sacked unceremoniously by KCR. In his first term, MLA T Rajaiah who served as the Deputy Chief Minister and Health Minister was also sacked following allegations of corruption.
Eatala was appointed as the Health Minister in 2019. He was the Finance Minister in TRS’s first term in power between 2014 and 2018.