Friday, March 8, 2013

Political debut for ‘backroom boy’ Lokesh?

HYDERABAD, March 8, 2013

The three-day tour of TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu's son, Lokesh, in Kuppam Assembly constituency of Chittoor district, represented by his father, from Thursday, has set off speculation whether the 30-year-old business graduate from Stanford University has announced his political debut, albeit unofficially.

Talking to The Hindu, senior party leader T. Devender Goud did not rule out his assuming a bigger role but said it all depended on the response he gets in other parts of the State.

His hectic tour programme in Kuppam had all the characteristics of a major political event ranging from a road show to meetings of party workers and receiving representations from the public. This was the first time that he undertook a tour on a political mission though he had been regularly tweeting his political comments. In fact, his road show at V. Kota on Thursday was a big draw. He walked with Mr. Naidu in his padayatra on a couple of occasions. Considered the 'backroom boy' of the TDP in recent times, Mr. Lokesh brushed aside questions about his political entry saying he was not interested but left the decision to the party. He might contest the 2014 general elections from a Lok Sabha constituency which was predominantly rural, sources in the party said.

Mr. Lokesh was credited as the author of the 'cash transfer scheme' which the TDP introduced in its 2009 election manifesto. He claimed that he developed the scheme from his experience of working in Brazil.

Akhilesh-type role

Sources added that Mr. Lokesh was playing a role akin to that of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav by helping his 63-year-old father.

He was already the key advisor to his father, operating from the corporate office of Heritage Foods which is his family concern. Many TDP leaders meet him in his office as he avoids going to the party headquarters. They say that there might not be any opposition to Mr. Lokesh making it big in TDP from within the family because he was the son-in-law of film star Balakrishna, another big name after Mr. Naidu. Junior NTR who was expected to be the only rival of Mr. Lokesh was busy with his film career.

Mr. Lokesh may plunge into politics in June when his wife, Brahmani, returns from Stanford after completing her MBA to look after the business of Heritage.
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