- Does Nara Lokesh deserve to be in the Andhra Cabinet?
- His failure in the Hyderabad municipal elections cost the TDP dearly.
- He is yet to prove his mettle at the polls, but Naidu is reportedly keen on the move.
A lot of credit is given to Nara Lokesh, son of chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, for his "successful" work done or the saner guidance he has given to his father and the Telugu Desam party.
However, what work he did and the type of guidance he has offered is not quite known to the public.
Recently, the senior Naidu revealed a secret guarded for twenty years. Apparently, it was Lokesh who advised him not to fall prey to the lure of the Prime Minister’s post in 1996, when the UUnited Front leadership had tipped him to be the PM of India.
Such anecdotes and CM Naidu openly praising the commendable work being done by Lokesh in the party has triggered a fever pitch of speculation that the Standford business graduate's induction into the cabinet is imminent.
But such praising by his father aside, who claimed Lokesh needed to be given bigger responsibility in the government, Lokesh has not proven his electoral mettle among the public yet.
The only mega event he led was the election campaign of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) in the February this year, which proved to be a disaster for the party. The defeat was so crushing that a fresh batch of TDP MLAs quit the party to join the TRS, seeing no hope on the horizon.
The failure almost closed the chapter of TDP in Telangana. As Chandrababu Naidu was unlikely to campaign for the party in near future and his son proved an unlikely to the lead the party, the Telugu Desam Legislature Party merged with TRS in less than a month after the defeat.
The GHMC election has not only dealt a death blow to the TDP in Telangana, but it also stunted the rise of Lokesh in Andhra Politics. The defeat is said to have postponed his induction into the cabinet.
Later, in August, CM Naidu dropped bold hints of a possible induction of Lokesh into the cabinet 'soon'. The talk was that a cabinet expansion would take place on the eve of Dasara and Lokesh would launch his 'power-politics' from the brand new capital being set up at Velagapudi.
But according to whispers within the party, this is unlikely to happen. A senior leader of the party, who is also a politburo member, said a two-line struggle was going on inside the party on the timing of Lokesh's induction into the cabinet.
"A section is exerting pressure on Naidu to take the Chinna Babu into the cabinet immediately and anoint him as the Minister for IT. They argue that the move has already been delayed and would brook no further delay. Another section wants Naidu to appoint him as minister after winning the next round of municipal elections under his leadership. Then it would look like an achievement and convince the people that Lokesh deserves a cabinet reward,” he said.
Many in the party wish to avoid the impression that that Lokesh was appointed minister just because he is the son of the Chief Minister, he added.
According to the leader, the latter group had cited the case of Telangana IT minister KT Rama Rao (KTR), son of Telangana Chief Minister KCR, who was given municipal administration department in addition to IT as a gift by his father after KTR’s successful campaign in the GHMC elections.
"The argument is that - let Chinna Babu lead the party to power in seven corporations and four municipalities, where elections are due. Inducting him into the cabinet after a win would silence his critics, and it would also be an honourable entry," he said.
Elections to seven major corporations - namely Vizag, Guntur, Ongole, Kurnool, Tirupati, Kakinada and Srikakulam, and four civic bodies (Rajampeta, Rajam, Kandukuru and Nellimarla) are due. The state has to conduct these elections before December as per a court directive.
As national general secretary, Lokesh has already been entrusted with the responsibility of leading the campaign in these centres. He is drawing up a strategy to win these local bodies, which are seen as a litmus test for the popularity of TDP government following the acceptance of the Centre' 'special package' in lieu of 'Special Status' to Andhra Pradesh.
Even the Opposition YSR Congress is summoning all of the resources at its command to ensure the defeat of the TDP in these local bodies.
The opposition’s fear is that its loss at such a grassroots level would undo the work done over the past two and a half years. This fierce fight between the TDP and opposition YSRC has made life uncertain for Lokesh.
Against this background, there is no option for the thousands of Lokesh fans in the party, except to keep their fingers crossed till the completion of elections to see their leader can become the counterpart of KTR in the Andhra Pradesh government.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:58 PM IST