Telangana: Former TRS minister Eatala Rajender joins BJP

Hyderabad: Former Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) minister and MLA Eatala Rajender landed in New Delhi and joined the Bharatiya Jatana Party (BJP) in presence of its national leaders. With Eatala’s move to BJP, the issue of his future in Telangana’s politics will finally come to rest. He was the state health minister over a month ago.

On Monday in Delhi, Eatala Rajender was welcome into the BJP by union minister Piyush Goyal and other leaders. Last week, Eatala had resigned from the state Assembly as the Huzurabad MLA, and submitted his resignation to the speaker. Prior to that, he announced his resignation from the TRS and had lashed out at the party head and Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR).

Eatala’s exit from the Telangana state cabinet under KCR was less than savoury, as he was removed from his post over allegations of land grabbing. The state government has also initiated a probe against him over the issue. Two days ago, Eatala Rajender was visited many Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders at his residence on Friday. The in-charge for BJP in Telangana, Tarun Chugh, was also among the notable faces who was present there.

Speaking to the media on Monday, Eatala said he will work to help the BJP expand in Telangana, and added that the saffron party is also looking to expand its reach in the rural areas. However, it may be noted that the former Huzurabad MLA has not been delegated any specific post in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Telangana unit. “He may have asked for a position, but as of now he has just joined as a member,” said a BJP leader.

Like Eatala, other senior leaders from the Congress and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in the last few years also joined the BJP. Former state minister DK Aruna is one of them. Currently the BJP’s vice-president in Telangana, it took her eight months to bag the position.

Eatala Rajender was removed from the cabinet amid allegations of land encroachment of 66 acres of assigned land by the Jamuna Hatcheries Private Limited, which is owned by his family. He was thrown out from the post of health minister amid the peak of the ongoing second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Soon, the health portfolio was taken over by chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), whom he had indirectly criticized in public recently.

The former health minister had met several political leaders from various parties, including the Congress, but chose to join the BJP at the end. Through Eatala Rajender, the saffron party is hoping that it will finally be able to make inroads into rural areas of Telangana by riding horseback on such leaders. Even in the recently held Nagarjuna by-election, the BJP was able to get only 7,000-odd votes, showing that it is weak in rural areas.

Both BJP and TRS leaders had told earlier that Eatala Rajender is unlikely to win his seat, Huzurabad (in Karimnagar), on his own. “He is more concerned about his properties, and he is expecting some help as BJP is in the centre,” the BJP leader had said.

Eatala Rajender’s decision to join the BJP, which senior leaders from the saffron party confirmed to earlier, is likely a move to protect himself from the state government’s corruption probe against him. More importantly, sacking him was also a move by TRS supremo and Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar (KCR) to quieten other dissidents who perhaps would have made some noise if they would have been unchecked.

“We are expecting some more leaders to join our party here in the coming days. Now there is the Huzurabad by-poll coming up, but apart from that all other elections are over. So we have to wait and see. As of now however, no other MLA from the TRS wants to defect. But there is time before the 2023 state elections,” said a BJP leader, who did not want to be quoted.