After more than a year of speculation, it looks like TDP general secretary Nara Lokesh may be inducted into the Andhra Pradesh state cabinet soon.
Lokesh is also the son of Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and the official announcement of the promotion is expected to come before the end of February.
Many media houses quoted multiple ‘reliable sources’ and reported that Naidu dropped hints during a recent meeting with Telangana TDP leaders at the state’s temporary secretariat in Velagapudi, that the ‘wait’ may be over.
Many played on the pun of ‘son rise’ in the ‘sun rise’ state, that Andhra dubs itself as, to woo investors.
The New Indian Express reported that Naidu wanted to induct him into the cabinet and entrust him with a key portfolio. And with Legislative Council Elections due soon, Lokesh could very well contest for the MLC polls rather than asking an MLA to vacate his/her seat.
Some spoke on record.
“Yes, the Chief Minister told us he is going to include his son in the ministry very soon. He, however, did not indicate when he is going to expand the cabinet to accommodate Lokesh. He has been handling the party affairs effectively. And there have been representations from various party district units to Naidu to induct him in the cabinet. It’s time that Naidu entrust his son a bigger responsibility of a minister,” Telangana TDP president L Ramana told Hindustan Times.
The move comes as Lokesh has been increasingly taking part in party meetings over the past few years.
While he had been working in the sidelines as early as the 2009 elections, he officially joined politics only in 2013.
Starting off as the President of the TDP’s youth wing, Lokesh quickly rose through the ranks of the party, until he reached the post of Coordinator, cadre welfare fund.
In September 2015, Naidu promoted his son, making him an ex-officio member of the politburo and the general secretary of the party’s central committee.
Following the promotion, Lokesh holds the same post that his father held during the regime of former Andhra Chief Minister and TDP founder NT Rama Rao.
A possible expansion of the Council of Ministers has been due since the government took office in 2014.
Last year, amid rumours of a cabinet expansion, several TDP leaders, including some ministers, launched a campaign seeking Lokesh’s induction into the cabinet.
Even legislators, offered to vacate their seat if Naidu’s son was willing to contest for an MLA or MLC post.
Though many years younger, Lokesh has also been considered as a counterpart for Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s son, KT Rama Rao, who holds a ministerial post in the TRS ruled state.
Even the state’s present Opposition leader YS Jaganmohan Reddy, is the son of former CM YS Rajasekhara Reddy.
When asked about the comparisons, Lokesh had earlier said, “I’m not in a hurry. KTR is close to 40, Jagan is above 40, but I’m in my early thirties. I want to gain more experience, win a few elections before I’m tuned to it.”
Opposition parties have often also accused Lokesh of acting as an “extra-constitutional authority” in the past – something that the TDP has dismissed.
Meanwhile, the Times of India reported that Naidu was waiting for the family astrologer’s advice.
“Solar eclipse falls on February 26, which happens to be Amavasya. Although the eclipse is not visible in India, it is not auspicious to take up big things before February 26,” Government consultant and astrologer Ponnaluri Srinivas Gargeya told the newspaper, suggesting that March 1 was an ‘auspicious’ date.
When contacted by The Hindu, Lokesh is reported to have ‘sounded positive’ about the news and said, “Whatever responsibility the party gives me, I will take it up.”