Chandrababu paves for son Lokesh's elevation into Andhra Cabinet. Is it the best move?
When VK Sasikala pulled off a 'friendly coup' and unseated O Panneerselvam from the chief minister's chair in Tamil Naidu, a lot of people, including a large number of Telugus, detested the move. Social media gave it a thumbs-down. But the story in Andhra Pradesh is slightly different.
Those who poured scorn on Sasikala's ascendancy were ready to sing paeans to the elevation of Nara Lokesh, son of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, to level-one of administration.
The muhurat for Lokesh's coronation will be fixed in a few days. Once he is administered the oath of office and secrecy as a minister in Naidu's Cabinet, his involvement in the administration will be accentuated and officialised.
Lokesh, for all practical purposes, will be donning the role of a 'trainee chief minister' under the guidance of his father.
All about the details
Chandrababu Naidu, by habit, has a method of executing anything very meticulously. The well-choreographed move of the ascendancy of his only son also has several steps.
Naidu doesn't want to give an impression that Lokesh has paratrooped into the administration and has started calling the shots. Lokesh has been dealing in party activities for quite some time. He was also made the coordinator for the Telugu Desam Party's (TDP) workers welfare fund in 2014.
Ever since, some 'designated drivers' within the party and those among the 'opinion makers' worked hard to manufacture a demand that Lokesh be inducted into the state Cabinet a la KT Rama Rao, aka KTR, son of Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao.
However, it will be foolish to compare KTR and Lokesh, for the Telangana IT and Municipal Administration minister is a leader who has worked in the Telangana movement and has fought two elections and served in the Opposition as an MLA in united Andhra Pradesh.
List of differences
When we say a ballpark comparison between KTR and Lokesh isn't right, there are more reasons than those we have already stated.
That KTR has groomed himself into a politician of class and connect with rural masses and the corporate elite - is now proven. Lokesh has miles to go before he achieves something like that.
Soon after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into separate states, the TDP formed a 'National Committee' and declared itself a "national party", though it is not one in accordance with the Representation of People Act.
The party has Chandrababu Naidu as its National President and Lokesh as National General Secretary and the ex-officio member of the party's highest policy-making body, the politburo.
As if to set the tone for a larger role on the party canvas, Lokesh was entrusted with the responsibility of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections where the TDP won only one out of 150 municipal divisions. This means the party was completely decimated in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
Following that, Lokesh's leadership conked off in Telangana. And against that background, he began to dabble with the Andhra Pradesh politics.
Right time, right moves
While KCR's political manoeuvring skills plummeted the TDP's strength in the Telangana Assembly from 15 to a 'niggardly' two, Telangana TDP president L Ramana at a recent meeting sought Lokesh's services to be spared for Telangana.
While nobody knows if the request was timed and wrangled, Chandrababu Naidu "hinted" (politically, it was confirmed) that Lokesh would be inducted into the State Cabinet in Andhra Pradesh, so there was no chance of the "boy" being tasked with leading the Telangana unit.
Ramana's request can be seen as a ploy for Naidu to make this "big announcement", that too surreptitiously. This was used as an opportunity to test the waters on how the people were receiving the news.
Meanwhile, a news channel loyal to the TDP conducted an SMS poll on whether the move to induct Lokesh into AP Cabinet was right. The response was along on the expected lines. Over 90% of respondents hailed the decision. The opinion is perfectly manufactured.
Though some "sacrificial offers" were made by certain leaders to pave the way for Lokesh's election to the Assembly, Naidu felt it was alright to get his son into the legislature through the Upper House.
Lokesh's demonstration of modesty - that he needed to "gain experience" was somehow given a quiet go-by. He is already facing the heat of allegations that he is turning out to be an extra-constitutional authority, a tag attached to Naidu when he helmed the party and government matters as the second-in-command during the regime of his father-in-law and founder of the TDP, NT Rama Rao.
Therefore, Naidu knows how difficult it is to guard oneself against that charge. Instead, it is always better to secure a Constitutional role - as he is paved the way for Lokesh.
It's all in the family
It is not new for chief ministers to dabble with the idea of anointing their wards as heirs apparent. Marri Channa Reddy had nursed such ambitions for his son Sashidhar Reddy, who ended up being a minister in the Cabinet of N Janardhana Reddy, who succeeded Channa Reddy.
Even Kotla Vijayabhaskara Reddy had his son Kotla Surya Prakash Reddy elected to the Lok Sabha during his chief ministership. Surya Prakash Reddy served as a minister of state in the Manmohan Singh Cabinet.
While NTR's son-in-law is the supremo of the TDP, son of YS Rajasekhara Reddy - YS Jaganmohan Reddy - hankered to the become the CM soon after the death of his father, but to no avail. He is still struggling to realise his dream. For now, he is the Leader of the Opposition in Andhra Pradesh.
The TDP's social media brigade did not fully endorse the view of the chief minister. Some of them said Lokesh should take a more honorable route of getting elected to the Assembly before being inducted into the State Cabinet, while some have sought to know where is the hurry and the "young leader" can wait till 2019 elections.
However, some sycophants have begun listing out the dynasties that have been thriving owing to political lineage since independence and say the induction of Lokesh into AP Cabinet is a right decision.
Edited by Jhinuk Sen