It was 6 pm, and the inhabitants of Cheedikada, a nondescript village in Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh, were waiting eagerly to catch a glimpse of Nara Lokesh (32), son of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo N Chandrababu Naidu. Soon, Lokesh descended on the village in a cavalcade of cars. The newly chosen general secretary of the TDP directly walked on to the dais and hurled some power-packed dialogues against TDP's political rivals. After delivering the speech and interacting with some villagers, Lokesh left for his next destination.
There is no election scheduled in the near future in the reorganised state. Even then, Naidu's son is crisscrossing every nook and cranny of the state. The answer is simple. It is a dynasty rising in the TDP. 65-year-old Chandrababu Naidu, who has completed 35 years in politics, is now smoothening his son's way into the party, and has begun projecting his son as the second-in-command.
The TDP cadres in the state have been holding a mass connect programme 'Jana Chaitanya Yatras' to propagate the party ideology and publicise state government's schemes, wherein Lokesh has become a new 'star campaigner'. Flanked by his son, Naidu launched this 15-day programme on in Guntur on December 1. During the ongoing Yatras, TDP leadership wants to gather feedback on the performance of the state government from people. But according to party seniors, the actual agenda of the 'Jana Chaitanya Yatras' is to make Lokesh familiar to party cadres at grassroots and allow him know the nuances of political campaign.
“Naidu wants to groom his son to take over the party reins by 2019 general polls. Hence, he has started making Lokesh extensively mingle with people and party cadres by holding various programmes," a senior TDP minister told The Sunday Standard. Naidu seems to have gradually anointed his son as his 'successor' in the party. Exactly 17 months ago, Lokesh, an MBA graduate from Stanford University in the US, was made the coordinator of the TDP Workers Welfare Fund. He was elevated in the party administrative hierarchy as the party's national general secretary.
Naidu also induced his son into the party's politburo as an ex officio member. The TDP chief defended his decision saying, “Lokesh made the party's membership drive a personal crusade and enrolled more than 50 lakh members. As the coordinator of the party workers' fund, he introduced various novel schemes for the welfare of the party workers. Hence, he has got promotion."
There are several instances which show the increasing influence of Naidu's son in the party and the government. Soon after his father had assumed the office, Lokesh ensured that his close friend Abhista was appointed as an OSD (officer on special duty) in Chief Minister's Office (CMO), probably to have his grip on the administration. Lokesh is taking part in the interactive meetings being organised by Naidu with his party ministers, MLAs and MPs, regularly.
Naidu's next move is to make his son campaign in the ensuing polls to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) in Telangana on behalf of the TDP in a bid to prepare him for the 2019 general polls.