Nara Lokesh Naidu, 36, son of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, is making his electoral debut by contesting from the Mangalagiri Assembly constituency in the heart of Amaravati Capital Region.
A number of farmers who gave up their land for construction of the new state capital are residents of Mangalagiri, and the TDP has a good support base in the constituency.
Lokesh, the IT and Panchayati Raj and Rural Development Minister, was elected as a Member of Legislative Council in March 2017. He was appointed minister a month later.
In 2014, YSR Congress Party’s A Ramakrishna Reddy won from Mangalagiri with a margin of just 12 votes. Reddy polled 88,977 votes while the TDP’s G Chiranjeevi polled 88,965 votes. After the TDP formed the government after bifurcation of the state, Mangalagiri is considered a safe bet for the TDP.
In the TDP list of 126 candidates are 20 of the 24 ministers. Several senior TDP leaders including ministers Paritala Sunitha and K E Krishna Murthy have decided to make way for their sons. While Sunitha’s son Sriram has been fielded from Raptadu which she represents, Krishna Murthy’s son Shyam has been fielded from Pattikonda which his father represents. There are 31 BCs, 18 SCs, 4 STs and 72 OCs in the list. Candidates for the remaining 49 Assembly constituencies and 25 Lok Sabha are likely to be declared in a day or two.
Lokesh holds an MBA degree from Stanford University Graduate School of Business and a Bachelor of Science degree with specialisation in Management Information Systems from Carnegie Mellon University. He entered politics in 2009 when he managed the campaign for his father in Kuppam Assembly Constituency.
Since 2014, Lokesh, who was appointed general secretary, has been heading an aggressive TDP membership drive. He quickly rose to become a member of the TDP politburo. Very active on social media, he led the AP delegation, in place of Naidu, to the 49th meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos in January. He is also involved in preparing the party for the elections next month.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Lokesh said, “Our focus is on reaching out to each household in all the constituencies at least three times before the elections.”
Explaining the TDP’s strategy, he said, “We have a strong field force and our focus is on meeting each member of each house and taking feedback. We have trained booth-level conveners twice for this outreach. On the other hand, we are using social media with clear targeting of different types of people with appropriate messaging.”
The TDP is keen to tap first-time and young voters. Under Lokesh’s tutelage, a large team of TDP workers are reaching out to youths through messages on WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, SMS and Interactive Voice Response. He also conducts meetings with booth-level workers, local leaders and helps party leadership in devising a strategy to counter the opposition in various constituencies.
“TDP government has done a lot of work for youth, especially enabling unemployed youth to get skill training,” Lokesh said. The TDP has fulfilled dreams of lakhs of homeless people by giving them 2 BHK houses under government schemes, he added.