Is the TDP heading towards a leadership crisis in Andhra Pradesh?

With the arrest of Chandrababu Naidu by the CID in the alleged skill development scam case, and uncertainty looming over his release in the near future as the investigating agency is reportedly bracing to corner him and his son Lokesh in one case or the other, the question that worries the rank and file is who will lead the party and take on the YSRCP in the 2024 elections

September 23, 2023 07:02 pm | Updated September 26, 2023 05:33 pm IST - VISKAHAPATNAM

TDP national president N. Chandrababu Naidu’s wife Bhuvaneswari and daughter-in-law Brahmani taking out a candlelight march in Rajamahendravaram recently.

TDP national president N. Chandrababu Naidu’s wife Bhuvaneswari and daughter-in-law Brahmani taking out a candlelight march in Rajamahendravaram recently. | Photo Credit: File Photo

After the arrest of Telugu Desam Party national president N. Chandrababu Naidu by the A.P. CID in the alleged skill development scam case, there seems to be a void on the leadership front in the four-decade-old party.

Though the TDP had been founded by actor-turned-politician N.T. Rama Rao, popularly known as NTR, it was Mr. Naidu who was at the helm for the last three decades. He had also served as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh for three terms, twice in the composite State.

Mr. Naidu commands respect among the party cadres and MLAs, and has also the reputation of being a tall leader in the national political scenario.

But post his arrest, the void is evident, and there is an element of worry seeping through the rank and file of the party, though the leaders brush it aside saying that Mr. Naidu will come out unscathed and will lead them again.

“Yes, Mr. Naidu is like a fatherly figure for us, and we are ready to do anything for him. But, we deny that there is a leadership crisis, as ours is a cadre-based party with a well-entrenched Polit Bureau. It is unlike the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), where Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy alone calls the shots,” say several TDP leaders.

Many senior leaders share the same opinion, but when the thought of uncertainty surrounding Mr. Naidu’s release from custody comes to mind, they shirk from giving an assertive statement on who would lead the party in his absence.

Even if Mr. Naidu wriggles out of the case, the CID is ready to corner him in a few more cases such as the Amaravati land issue, Punganur violence, FiberNet and the Inner Ring Road project.

Can Brahmani fill the void?

Given the situation, the TDP leaders are of the opinion that the temporary void can be filled only by someone from the Nara or Nandamuri family.

Though Mr. Naidu’s son and party national general secretary Lokesh is the heir apparent, there are certain reservations about his leadership. Many senior leaders have expressed displeasure to work with or alongside Mr. Lokesh, and moreover there is an imminent threat that he will also be arrested by the CID in one case or the other.

In such a scenario, the name of Mr. Lokesh’s wife, Brahmani, is being heard among the party circles.

Ms. Brahmani is not only the daughter-in-law of Mr. Naidu but also the grandchild of NTR and daughter of actor and Hindupur MLA Balakrishna.

Mr. Balakrishna also finds favour among a section of the leaders and cadres, but his temperament is a hindrance.

Sources in the party say, if Mr. Naidu’s release is delayed, then Ms. Brahmani could be the best bet, as she is young and well-educated, and has already made a mark in heading a private dairy. This apart, she can turn the tide in favour of the TDP riding on the sympathy factor, believe the party cadres.

With the JSP chief Pawan Kalyan already announcing his intention to forge an alliance with the TDP, party cadres are of the view that Ms. Brahmani may play a key role in the elections in 2024.

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