From left to TRS to right: Eatala Rajender’s political journey

Hyderabad: Former minister and four-time legislator from Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Eatala Rajender on Monday, in a not-so-surprising move, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the presence of its national leaders. 

Ending almost a two-decade long association with the party and its supremo K Chandrasekhar Rao, Eatala Rajender had recently quit TRS alleging the witch-hunt in relation to what he called ‘baseless’ allegations of land grabbing. On Saturday, he had also submitted his resignation as an MLA.

This big shift to BJP comes over a month after Eatala Rajender was stripped from his health portfolio in the state cabinet over allegations that he encroached 66 acres of assigned land through Jamuna Hatcheries Private Limited, owned by his family. Evidently, political observers are seeing the move as an attempt to get relief from the witch-hunt by the TRS government and avoid getting arrested in the land encroachment case. 

Otherwise, a politician with a left-leaning ideology has no business in the saffron party. In fact, during his college days, Eatala Rajender was an active leader of Progressive Democratic Students’ Union (PDSU), which is a student-wing of the CPI (Marxist-Leninist) New Democracy, a splinter group of the Naxalites.

Though hailed from a family of rich landlords, Eatala always had the leftist ideology in his veins. As the CPI (ML) weakened, he joined the TRS in 2003 to take part in the separate Telangana movement. He even sacrificed some of his properties for the movement.

After joining the TRS, Eatala Rajender not only became a close aide to KCR but also served as a member of the legislative assembly four times. For the first time, he won from the Kamalapur constituency, his native in Karimnagar. He was also the floor leader for TRS in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh assembly. 

His stint as the floor leader was undeterred as he stood against Congress party heavyweights including the then chief minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy, who vehemently opposed the separate Telangana state.

Later in 2009, Eatala Rajender won from Huzurabad, which went on to become his forte for the next three terms. After the formation of the Telangana state and the victory of KCR-led TRS, he was naturally inducted into the cabinet with the most-sought finance ministry. In his second term, KCR offered the health portfolio to his associate.

Though his political life has taken several turns in the last 17 years, Eatala Rajender’s leftist leaning is still there in his talk. With no position offered to the senior leader in BJP, his decision seems a little unpalatable to the public as he will now be forced to speak anti-communist rhetoric.

Only agenda to end feudal TRS rule: Eatala Rajender

After he submitted his resignation as an MLA, Eatala Rajender spoke to the media on Saturday in his typical tone. “My DNA is secular. My agenda now is neither right nor left. My only agenda is to put an end to the dictatorial and feudal TRS rule being experienced by the entire Telangana people,” Rajender said.

He said though he had come from a leftist background, he was joining a right wing party only to pull down the ruling TRS. “In fact, even the leftist organizations are also extending their solidarity with me. Right from RSU to RSS, everybody is with me in Huzurabad in launching the second self-respect movement in Telangana,” Eatala Rajender said.

Can Rajender’s entry into BJP pull the supporters of two political extremes together, like he claimed? Only time will tell.