I will, however, accept any portfolio assigned to me by my party, says Chandrababu Naidu’s son
Lokesh, national general secretary of the Telugu Desam Party and son of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, perceives efforts by party men to thrust the CM’s post on him as “premature.” Drawing a parallel with peers such as KTR (K.T. Rama Rao, son of Telangana CM K. Chandrashekar Rao), Akhilesh Yadav and Jaganmohan Reddy is not justified as they are his “seniors,” he says. Excerpts from an exclusive interaction with The Hindu in Guntur:
How is the TDP positioned in the State and across the country?
We came back to power in A.P. after 10 years, but in Telangana we lost the elections and at the national and State levels, we are aligned with the BJP. In the Andamans too, we are contesting and supported the BJP there. These are the three regions we are focused on.
As far as A.P. is concerned, our concentration is on motivating party activists to live up to people’s expectations. In Telangana, we’ve lost our MLAs but the cadre is intact and we will bounce back soon.
How do you look at your journey — from coordinator of party workers welfare fund to party general secretary?
I’m fortunate that I’ve been given a great responsibility at a very young age. I am working with great minds and leaders. I could also show tremendous progress in terms of party membership drive. In the last effort in 2014, we aimed at 30 lakh but could enrol over 50 lakh members within a very short period. We are now aiming at one-crore membership.
After the recent killing of 30 Maoists on the Andhra-Odisha border, a life threat was issued to you and [your father] Mr. Naidu by Maoists. How do you view it?
It’s an occupational hazard.
The Opposition calls Lokesh an extra-constitutional authority and there are charges of corruption in general governance.
Everything is done within the constitutional framework. I have a role to play in the party and I’m playing it effectively. Coming to the charges of corruption, I request those levelling them to prove the allegations. We are declaring our assets every year. It was sad to see YSRCP saying that there was a corrupt deal between the Singapore government and A.P. Amaravati will happen, come what may.
How do you view the demand from Ministers and party leaders to induct you in the Cabinet?
Senior leaders are saying that if I don’t accept the offer I’ll be seen as inefficient. But if the party decides so, I’ll accept whatever portfolio is assigned to me.
You are also seen as CM material and parallels are drawn with Akhilesh Yadav and other rising sons in different States.
Our leader will be there as CM for at least 25 years and I’m not in a hurry. KTR is close to 40, Jagan is above 40 and Akhilesh Yadav is in late forties, but I’m in my early thirties.
I want to gain more experience, win a few elections before I’m tuned to it.
How do you see competition from other parties?
I’m not dismissing them but all I can say is that there is no competition for the TDP in A.P.