No health minister in Telangana in spite of COVID-19 pandemic

Hyderabad: It has been a little over two months since former Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) MLA and leader Eatala Rajender was sacked from his cabinet post of state health minister by chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR). It transpired during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic’s second wave, while it was at its peak, and KCR then took over the health portfolio.

While COVID-19 cases have bow now come down, the question begs to be asked: doesn’t Telangana need a full-time health minister? As of now chief minister KCR is handling the situation, and conducts regular meetings with the cabinet and other state officials. In fact a cabinet meeting has been scheduled for July 10 as well. While the health ministry is officially with him, state finance minister T. Hairsh Rao also seems to have been delegated with some responsibilities.

Moreover, it may be pertinent to point out that hundreds of angry contract nurses have been protesting against the state government from the last few days as their contracts were terminated. The nurses have been holding demonstrations at the State Public Health department, and also at Pragathi Bhavan, KCR’s revamped camp office at Begumpet.

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Ideally in the current situation the health minister would have met the nurses to tackle the situation, but currently, the contract workers have no one who can lend an ear. The nurses, who worked at state-run hospitals, claim that their jobs were supposed to be extended for another year in March, but were instead made to work till June and then fired.

“He will definitely appoint someone. What is the hurry? It has not been decided yet. KCR will only announce when he decides. I feel he will wait for some more time, and COVID-19 cases are also on the decline,” said a senior TRS leader, who did not want to be quoted.

It has to be seen how far into the COVID-19 pandemic will chief minister KCR appoint or give one of his MLAs or MLCs the health minister portfolio. While Eatala Rajender’s sacking had political overtones, some did censure KCR for doing it right between the COVID-19 pandemic’s second wave, which was then raging, as thousands of new cases were being reported on a daily basis.

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