Rajaiah a la Ramachandra Rao

  • KCR shows door to Health Minister
  • Takes a leaf from NTR’s stylebook
  • A minister sacked on graft charges after 30 years

(Dasu Kesava Rao)

The unceremonious sacking of Deputy Chief Minister T. Rajaiah the biggest news of the week, brings to the mind even more humiliating dismissal of a minister in the early Eighties.

dasu kesava rao

Dasu Kesava Rao

Those were the heady days when NT Rama Rao’s Telugu Desam rode to power on the crest of an unprecedented popular support in the 1983 Assembly elections. Soon after becoming the Chief Minister, Rama Rao vowed to root out corruption in the bureaucracy and politics. He was known to take decisions either impulsively or in the heat of emotion, though with best intentions. Lending credence to tale-bearers was another weakness attributed to him.

Reports reached him that M. Ramachandra Rao, Labour Minister, misused his authority to make a decent pile and that he had splurged recklessly to perform the marriage of his son. Rama Rao did not take kindly to the big fat wedding and peremptorily showed the door to Ramachandra Rao. He had been in the Government for barely two or three months when the axe fell. That was the end of Malkajgiri doctor’s brief political career, although he returned to the Telugu Desam after N. Chandrababu Naidu took over the reins of the party. That again was short-lived. Such was the authority NTR had wielded and the goodwill he had enjoyed in the masses that the dismissal caused hardly any reaction in the media. For their part, Cabinet colleagues discreetly maintained a stiff upper lip.

As a cinema star, Rama Rao had patiently suffered the corrupt and tardy ways of the bureaucracy. He never forgave it. After becoming the Chief Minister, his first task was to rid the administration of corruption. At a function near Zaheerabad in Medak district, he asked people to bring to his notice any instance of officials demanding bribe. ‘Give me a call and I will be at your door’, he assured them with characteristic flourish.

Now our Chief Minister has taken a cue from his erstwhile leader and handed a similar assurance to the people of Warangal recently. A 24×7 toll-free telephone number was specially created for the people to bring their grievances to the notice of the Government, he said. Predictably, the toll free number choked with thousands of complaints. What the complaints relate to or what action has been taken is yet unknown, but the move has served to improve public confidence.

KCR sacked the Dalit leader, but quickly filled the space with another Dalit leader. The action evoked criticism from across the opposition parties and Dalit outfits like the Madiga Reservation Porata Samithi. He took the criticism in his stride. The ‘victim’ himself chose to keep mum, except protesting innocence of accusations levelled against him.

Rajaiah incurred the Chief Minister’s displeasure pretty early in office. He was accused of allowing family members and relatives to have a free run of his office and of looking the other way when his personal staff indulged in questionable activities. It was worse when the Deputy CM took important decisions without consulting his boss, let alone taking his permission. Subtle warnings failed to have effect. The Chief Minister could wait no longer. Ironically, while those in the know and the media knew about Rajaiah’s fate, the man himself was unaware until the blow struck.

Political, more than moral, considerations appear to have weighed with the Chief Minister. (eom)

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