Hyderabad: It is a tricky situation for former minister Etala Rajender to be in after a stint of about eight years as a minister. Once a protégé of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR) who gave him the important portfolio of finance in the first term, Etala has fallen on bad days for various reasons. KCR had started suspecting Etala’s loyalty for quite some time. Even during the 2018 Assembly elections, it was rumoured that the TRS chief was doing everything to get Etala defeated. However, Etala won the elections and was taken into the cabinet. He was given another important portfolio of health. He was very busy managing the second wave of corona virus when the axe fell on him.
The sack was unexpected
Etala Rajender was expecting to be dropped from the cabinet. But the time and the manner in which the sack was done were unexpected. He never thought that a case would be made of his acquiring land for his family business of hatcheries. He was also not expecting the swiftness with which KCR acted in getting him ousted from the ministry. Etala is known to be close to Harish Rao, nephew of the chief minister and a powerful finance minister. Harish Rao and other friends of Etala in the cabinet and outside did not utter a word while the KCR got Etala sacked within 48 hours of the land grab allegations were aired by T-News, owned by KCR’s family, and another news channel being run by Ravi Prakash, a popular TV personality who was ousted from TV9 a few months ago. KCR had planned the sacking of Etala as meticulously as he planned the election of Nomula Bhagat in Nagarjuan Sagar by-election.
Not a pushover
Rajender is not a pushover. He is a popular leader from a backward Mudiraj community. There were protests in Huzurabad constituency when the news of his sacking appeared on TV channels. Some BC leaders and SC leaders visited him at his farm house in Shamirpet on Sunday. Rajender is in no hurry to make a move. He would like to wait and see how far the issue of land grabbing will be taken. There were rumours that the former minister could be arrested for grabbing the assigned lands. Etala is expecting KCR to take the issue to the logical conclusion by suspending him for TRS and recommending disqualification as an MLA.
‘Would consult my people’
In the media conference Etala addressed on Monday morning, he criticized the chief minister for using vigilance, ACB and revenue departments to harass him. He said he knew how KCR can finish anyone he detested. He told the media that he would go to his constituency, Huzurabad, and consult his people before deciding his future course of action. He said he would give utmost importance to his self respect. He is prepared to die for the sake of self respect. He reminded the chief minister that when YS Rajasekhara Reddy tried all the tricks in his bag to win him over, he stood solidly by the TRS while many leaders had secret meetings with the then chief minister. He said what was done by the chief minister in his case would not enhance his status. He did not rule out his recourse to legal action against the persons who are trying to fix him on false charges.
KCR known for timing
KCR, a consummate politician, is known for his timing. Why did he act now? He could have waited for some more months. It is rumoured that Etala, Visweswara Reddy, who resigned from the Congress recently and Prof.Kodandaram, president of Telangana Jana Samiti, had a clandestine meeting some days ago and it was brought to KCR’s notice. He must have thought that this is the best time to act so that Etala would be thoroughly exposed for two years before next elections. Now that municipal polls also are out of the way and there are no elections in near future, KCR thought it is the right time to act against a belligerent colleague who complaints every now and then of lack of respect in the cabinet. Meanwhile, Rajender will be kept busy with allegations, inquiries and litigation.