By Sushil Kutty
Why should it surprise anybody if Telugu Desam Party supremo Chandrababu Naidu wants his son Nara Lokesh to replace him at the head of the TDP table? CBN is doing nothing that is unusual. Besides, it is classic Congress. Nara Lokesh will also undertake a ‘padayatra’, just like Gandhi family scion Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, but only limited to Andhra Pradesh.
If the Congress wants Rahul Gandhi to become Prime Minister, the TDP wants Nara Lokesh to be anointed Andhra Pradesh CM. Passing on the baton to a family member is common in Indian politics. When NT Rama Rao became Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, there were no doubts that another dynasty was born.
And in recent months, both Chandrababu Naidu and Nara Lokesh have been addressing packed rallies at places across Andhra Pradesh. On December 28, a stampede at one such rally killed eight people, and injured several.
Earlier, this month, Nara Lokesh was heckled and chased away by a crowd in Guntur district when he was on his way to meet a rape-survivor there. Lokesh alleged the attackers were “YSRCP goons”.
The stampede on December 28 took place in Nellore district. Death by trampling is not martyrdom. However, Chandrababu Naidu was pleasantly surprised when he saw the “crazed fans” of Nara Lokesh at another rally in the state. Since then, Lokesh has become the “No.2” in TDP.
There are no doubts left that CBN wanted Nara Lokesh to follow in his footsteps. Besides, if Jagan Mohan Reddy could become Chief Minister like his father YS Rajashekera Reddy, why cannot CBN’s son Nara Lokesh? The son-follows-father culture is as old as mythology and everybody knows Indian mythology goes back right into time.
Common Indian people love dynasts, kings and queens and their ‘yuvraj’. And, it’s not just ‘Bharat’ that has this tradition. Communist China, too, has its princelings, sons and sons-in-law of powerful Chinese Communist Party officials. President Xi Jinping was also a princeling.
On December 29, Prime Minister Narendra Modi added to the ex-gratia promised to the eight dead at CBN’s December 28 rally. Chandrababu Naidu, who was with the Congress in 2019, had been edging towards the NDA-camp these past several months. With Telangana Rashtra Samithi transforming to Bharatiya Rashtra Samithi and KCR going all out against Modi, it makes sense for CBN to look Modi-ward.
CBN and KCR are like the cobra and the mongoose though who is cobra and who mongoose isn’t easy to pinpoint for the common folk. Time was when Chandrababu Naidu was the most-met politician in the Indian political scene. The politician who stitched coalitions. Those days in the mid-1990s when secret parleys behind closed doors and names for Prime Minister of India were discussed.
ose heady days are lost in the past and perhaps the safari suit-clad Chandrababu Naidu, whose own rise from obscurity was clouded in intrigue and betrayal, must be missing them most. There are those who will say Chandrababu Naidu got on December 28 what was coming to him.
He shouldn’t have made a habit of drawing crowds. He should have left Nara Lokesh, the business of addressing rallies. Ask people what triggered the December 28 evening stampede and there will be conspiracy theories plenty. People have a habit of sipping tea and dripping scorn at politicians.
Chandrababu Naidu has been heaping scorn on the YSRCP, and Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy. CBN had gotten quite used to being Chief Minister when Jagan Mohan Reddy cut it short. Now, with age catching up, Chandrababu Naidu is laying the ground for Nara Lokesh to deliver the coup de grace to Jagan Mohan Reddy. Jagan Mohan is sweeping rural and civic polls and he exudes confidence with his freebies and yatras. Come 2024 polls, he needs no allies.
The two princelings of Andhra politics have long years ahead of them, and it’s both feudal, and tribal. The original ‘Iron Man’ of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, if he comes calling for a day, would be surprised to find that India continues to be a hotchpotch of princely states!
And he might pick Chandrababu Naidu for the ultimate courtier. Naidu married NTR’s daughter and then betrayed NTR calling him an “evil spirit” that deserved what it got. In 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of the “betrayal” and flayed Chandrababu’s alliance with the Congress. Today, the Congress and TDP are not in any sort of alliance.
Come to think of it, neither is the YSRCP friends with the Congress. The next assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh have to be held before June 2024. In all likelihood, the state elections will be held along with the 2024 general elections. And this time, CBN will be fighting the elections not for himself but for his son Nara Lokesh, who would be carrying out a 4000 km ‘padayatra’ in time for the 2024 elections, both state and Centre. (IPA Service)