Is Lokesh an extra-constitutional force?
- A Tale of The Rising Sons
Hyderabad: The social media is agog with a torrent of divergent comments on Nara Lokesh, son of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu, being perceived as an extra-constitutional authority. Majority of the postings referred to the photograph that was found on the Telugu Desam Party (TDP)’s official website. The photo was later removed after it turned out to be controversial.
The photographed in question was showing Lokesh pointing a finger at AP Home Minister Nimmakayala China Rajappa who was seen standing in his place looking helplessly. Other members at the meeting were also visibly nonplussed.
Sakshi newspaper and Sakshi TV had taken advantage of the tell-tale photograph and published and telecast stories on Lokesh’s alleged highhandedness.
Meanwhile, Lakshmi Parvati, wife of late NT Rama Rao, demanded a clarification from Naidu about the position of Lokesh in the party and the government. At a press conference she had called, Lakshmi Parvati recalled that Naidu had described her as an extra-constitutional force during the tenure of NTR in 1994-95. “What do you have to say about your son now?’, she asked the Chief Minister.
The TDP had mounted a counter attack on YS Jaganmohan Reddy, Opposition leader in AP Assembly and president of YSRCP, saying that it was he who had amassed a lot of money working as extra-constitutional authority during the tenure of YS Rajasekhara Reddy as Chief Minister during 2004-2009. That was why he had to go to jail, the TDP leaders jibed.
YSRCP leaders rebutted the charges pointing out that Jaganmohan Reddy was never allowed by his father to visit the Secretariat or meet any minister or Congress leader. They said Jaganmohan Reddy was confined to Bengaluru where he was running his businesses.
With three young leaders hogging limelight in the two Telugu states — Jaganmohan Reddy and K Taraka Rama Rao (KTR) in Telangana and Lokesh in AP — comparison is inevitable. Observers note that Jaganmohan Reddy entered politics in a full-fledged manner only after the demise of his father. He had the courage to oppose the highest authority in the land, Sonia Gandhi, and walk out of the Congress. He floated his own party and asked the 17 Congress MLAs who defected to his party to resign from the Assembly and contest again. This is unlike Telugu Desam MLAs in Telangana and YSRCP in AP who were encouraged by the respective chief ministers to defect to the ruling parties but were not asked to resign from the membership of the legislature. Jaganmohan Reddy campaigned for the YSRCP candidates and got them re-elected. In 2014 elections, he led his party from the front and got 65 MLAs elected. In other words, his evolution as a leader is natural.
KTR’s case is slightly different. When K Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR) left the TDP and launched Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), KTR was in New York. He returned to Hyderabad and plunged into the movement for separate statehood at a later stage.
A gifted speaker like his father, KTR is undoubtedly an important leader in his own right like his cousin T Harish Rao and his sister Kavita. KCR’s family happened to be bestowed with the gift of the gab and the children have emerged as natural leaders, though it can be said that had KCR not been leading the movement, KTR would have continued with his job in New York.
However, both KTR and Kavita have the advantage of their father being at the helm both during the movement and after formation of the State of Telangana. Harish Rao, relatively senior, established himself as a leader even before KCR had established his party.
Lokesh, on the other hand, is not a poll-tested candidate so far. His position as TDP National General Secretary was gifted by his father who wields extraordinary influence in his party by being the only leader who matters. TDP president Naidu had tried to attribute political acumen to his son when he said he was advised by his young son not to accept the prime ministerial position and to stay put as chief minister as the latter is a ‘permanent one’. Lokesh was in his early teens at that time. Naidu had also told the people that the money transfer scheme was his son’s original idea. It was during the 2009 election campaign that he talked about the scheme and it was forgotten after the TDP lost the elections. The only political campaign in which Lokesh was involved came a cropper.
He was in charge of the TDP election campaign in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation election where the TDP fared very poorly. He has a lot of future as Naidu is sure to entrust the responsibility of running the party to his only son. The chief minister would do everything in his power to make it easy for Lokesh to succeed. But after a point, it would depend on the qualities of heart and mind of the younger Naidu. He should take lessons from the recent controversy and try not to show his hand but work with his party cadres to earn their respect. He should stop summoning the deputy chief ministers and presiding over the meetings of the ministers.
Let us not forget the fact that almost all the regional parties in the country are family-run. The Samajwadi Party is still headed by Mulayam Singh Yadav but he made his son Akhilesh the Chief Minister in 2011 and the young man is sure to continue as chief minister candidate in the campaign for the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in January next year.
BSP and the AIADMK are run by single women and they have not anointed their successors. One can talk of Sudhakaran, adopted son of Jayalalithaa and Sasikala, a close friend of her, as extra-constitutional authorities. But the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister distances both of them at her will.
RJD of Laloo Prasad Yadav has his sons as ministers even as he is calling the shots in Bihar creating problems for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The Bihar CM, though enjoying considerable clout in his party JD-U, does not encourage relatives to meddle with the party or the government.
We have past and present chief ministers of J&K Omar Abdullah and Mahabooba Mufti who owe their positions to their fathers. KCR of the TRS is sure to anoint his son KTR as chief minister. He would not be asking any Dalit leader to take over. None has any doubt on that score. Odisha Chief Minister Navin Patnaik is the unquestioned boss of his party, Biju Janata Dal. He is a bachelor and there is no interference in the affairs of party and government from anyone related to him. YSRCP is run by Jaganmohan Reddy. But when he had to go to jail, his mother Vijayamma and his sister Sharmila took over the reins but not anyone from outside his family. Once he is out of jail, Jagan had been keeping his family members out of regular political activities. It cannot be said, however, that he is running his party respecting the norm of internal democracy. There have been complaints that he does not consult the seniors in the party and is prone to take important decisions based on gut feeling.
Lokesh is at the bottom of the ladder, as far as practical political experience is concerned, although he could be lifted to No2 position by his doting father. Whatever the gift he may get from the dad, he should strive to prove that he deserved it. The challenge before Lokesh is very clear. He does not have to fight to earn a position. But he has to live up to the expectations of the people by working hard and keeping a low profile. If he continues with the domineering attitude of a proprietor’s son antagonizing senior leaders in the party, he would be wasting an opportunity. It is for him to decide his future course of action. It is also for the chief minister to advise him properly.