Eatela Rajender, former Heath Minister of Telangana and a confidante of Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, joins the BJP

Published : June 14, 2021 16:43 IST

Eatala Rajender (left) being greeted by Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan (centre) after he joined the BJP, in New Delhi on June 14. Photo: PTI/Ravi Choudhary


Eatala Rajender, former Telangana Health and Finance Minister, a six-time legislator and backward classes leader who recently became the first legislator from the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) to resign as a member of the State Legislative Assembly, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on June 14.

On June 12, Rajender, in a two-line statement addressed to the Speaker of the Telangana Assembly, said: “I hereby tender the resignation of my seat in the House with effect from June 12, 2021.” Since Speaker Pocharam Srinivas Reddy was not available, Rajender submitted his resignation to the Assembly Secretary.

Rajender had represented the Huzurabad Assembly constituency ever since it was carved out during the delimitation exercise. Before that, he had won from Kamalapur, a constituency that was abolished after the last delimitation exercise. Rajender was also a Minister in the Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy government in 2004 when the TRS fought the Assembly election as part of the Congress-led United Progressive Front and was part of the government.

While submitting his resignation, Rajender, who was a Progressive Democratic Students Union leader, stated that he was neither a Left- nor Right-oriented politician, and that his only agenda was to end the “feudal and dictatorial” rule of Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao. The BJP is likely to field Rajender or his wife Jamuna in the Huzurabad Assembly constituency byelection.

Rajender, who flew down to Delhi in a special flight, joined the BJP in the presence of Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Tarun Chugh, the BJP’s Telangana in-charge. The one-time close confidante of Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar called on Bandi Sanjay Kumar, Telangana BJP president, and G. Kishan Reddy, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, before joining the BJP.

Also joining the BJP along with Rajender were Ramesh Rathod, former Member of Parliament from Adilabad; Enugu Ravinder Reddy, former TRS legislator; Tula Uma, former zilla panchayat Chairperson and TRS mahila wing president; Ashwathama Reddy, former chairman, Joint Action Committee, Telangana State Road Transport Corporation Employees’ Union; Sada Keshav Reddy, vice chairman, Secunderabad Cantonment Board; and a few student leaders from Osmania University. Dharmapuri Aravind and Soyam Bapu Rao, Members of Parliament representing Nizamabad and Adilabad respectively and legislators M. Raghunandan Rao and G. Premender Reddy were also present.

Rajender had been close to Chandrashekhar Rao since the Telangana agitation days and had piloted the State through the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was unceremoniously sacked from the Cabinet by the Chief Minister on May 2 following allegations that Jamuna Hatcheries Private Limited, a firm owned by his family member, had encroached on 66 acres of assigned and temple lands in Achampet and Hakimpet villages on the outskirts of Hyderabad city. Jamuna Hatcheries had allegedly constructed poultry sheds and structures without obtaining non-agriculture land conversion orders under the Telangana Non-Agriculture Land Conversion Act, 2006.

The Chief Minister had ordered an inquiry by multiple agencies into the alleged encroachments before sacking Rajender at the height of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rajender has vehemently denied the charges. Subsequently, Rajender’s family moved the High Court and obtained temporary relief from governmental inquiries. The Telangana court junked a report that was produced after a hurriedly conducted probe by the District Collector, Medak. The report had confirmed the encroachments.

Rajender’s flight to the BJP is bound to create ripples in Telangana politics since he does command some political clout in north Telangana, a region that has always been politically volatile. However, TRS government faces no threat at present since it holds 101 seats in the 119-seat Telangana Assembly.