Hyderabad: Sending a clear message that he will act tough on corruption, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao Sunday dropped his deputy T. Rajaiah from cabinet and inducted Lok Sabha member Kadiam Srihari in his place.
Rajaiah, who was holding the medical and health portfolio, was sacked in the wake of allegations of corruption in his office and amidst criticism that the health department failed to take immediate steps to check spread of swine flu, which has claimed over 20 lives so far.
"On the advice of the chief minister, the governor has consented to drop T. Rajaiah from the council of ministers with immediate effect," said a statement from Raj Bhavan.
Srihari was swiftly sworn in as minister at a simple ceremony held at Raj Bhavan.
Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan administered him oath of office and secrecy. The chief minister and some of his cabinet colleagues were present.
Everything was kept under wraps and even the media was not invited to the swearing-in.
Srihari has been appointed as the new deputy chief minister. He will hold the education portfolio.
The chief minister also made minor changes in the portfolios.
G. Jagdish Reddy, who was holding the education portfolio, will now look after energy.
C. Laxmareddy, who was minister for energy, has now been given medical and health portfolio.
Srihari is a member of the Lok Sabha from Warangal. He had earlier served as a minister in the cabinet of N. Chandrababu Naidu in united Andhra Pradesh.
He quit the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in 2013 and joined the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).
KCR, as the chief minister is popularly known, told TRS leaders that he would be tough against corruption.
The action against Rajaiah came a day after three officials in his office were removed in the wake of allegations of corruption in purchase of ambulances. There were also allegations of corruption in appointments to urban health centres.
KCR is also believed to have put a couple of other ministers on notice for taking questionable decisions.
Meanwhile, Rajaiah told reporters Sunday night that he would abide by the decision of the chief minister.
He, however, denied allegations of any wrongdoing, saying if proved guilty, he was ready to face any punishment.
He said he believes that the delay on part of the health department in taking steps to control the spread of swine flu angered the chief minister.
The Dalit leader said he never thought KCR would make him deputy chief minister. "I will remain in TRS and I am ready to work as a coolie under his leadership for reconstruction of Telangana," said Rajaiah.