When some farmers in Telangana CM K. Chandrashekhar Rao’s native Medak district accused the family of his cabinet colleague, health minister Etala Rajender, of grabbing their land, KCR, who was in self-quarantine after testing positive for Covid, sacked Etala within 24 hours of receiving the complaint. KCR’s move came after the district collector, citing his preliminary reports after being asked to probe the matter, confirmed that there was some substance to the allegation. KCR also directed the collector to ask the forest department to take action against a company owned by Rajender’s wife for felling trees. The sacked minister and his family members have moved the high court against the government’s action.
Rajender, considered a founding pillar of the TRS, is from Karimnagar district and belongs to the influential backward caste Mudiraj community, which has considerable presence in a majority of the state’s 117 assembly constituencies. Though KCR used to acknowledge Rajender’s role in the statehood movement, they fell apart after the party’s emphatic win in the 2018 assembly polls. Besides re-inducting his son K.T. Ramarao and nephew T. Harish Rao in his cabinet, KCR also brought another nephew, Santosh Kumar, into the party fold and made him a Rajya Sabha member. He also paved the way for his daughter Kalvakuntla Kavitha, who lost the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Nizamabad, to become an MLC. These actions apparently put Rajender and other backward caste leaders to some discomfort.