Bickering over Dynasty Politics in present-day India


The Indian politicians love to hate but they cannot afford to miss it as far as dynasty politics are concerned. The purported letter by the 23 Congress leaders to prey the authority of the Gandhi’s just ahead of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting this week has brought into the center stage the role of dynasty politics across all political parties in the country. The letter rightly justified that the Gandhi family no longer require leading the grand old party and demanded a complete revamp of the hierarchy to revive the fledgling fortunes of the party. As usual, the tempest lead to Sonia Gandhi took up the mantle for another four months only to be replaced by his son Rahul Gandhi after this period.

Back in Andhra Pradesh, Telugu Desam Party appears to be plagued with a similar crisis. The so-called ‘sonrise’ succession plan by the former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu has been preferably a ‘sonset’ so far. Chandrababu Naidu’s formidable endeavours to make his only son Nara Lokesh, the crown prince of the TDP, bitterly failed when the party lost poorly in both the state and the Lok Sabha election last year. And what a shame, Nara Lokesh himself suffered an embarrassing defeat in the Mangalagiri assembly constituency in the capital region.

While the very similar piquant situation with Rahul Gandhi, who as a president of the Congress party also got a humiliating defeat at the 2019 polls, Nara Lokesh confronted the elections as a backroom boy in Chandrababu Naidu’s camp. The successor of the Nara Chandrababu Naidu’s family was extrapolated as a chief Minister in waiting during the Telugu Desam Party’s 2014-19 term. Apart from inducting Lokesh as a cabinet minister as a Panchayat Raj and IT portfolios, he was also made a member of the party’s highest decision-making body much to the embarrassment of his own senior leaders.

As a matter of fact, Naidu had seemingly developed the ground for his crown-prince as long ago as in the countdown to the elections in 2009, giving the young leader the credit for innovative and novel populist poll plank, .i.e., Direct Cash Benefit Scheme (DCBS) for the poor people. Alas, neither the hope of Naidu’s moving to national politics fructified nor Lokesh took over his father’s mantle. Naidu’s legacy went awry thanks to the resounding victory of the YSR Congress party led by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.

Similar to Rahul Gandhi, Nara Lokesh failed to spur and motivated young voters in the last two elections in Andhra Pradesh, even though he led the party’s crucial campaigns from the forefront with a shoulder to shoulder with his father. As a consequence, young voters carried away towards the maverick Jaganmohan Reddy and thespian Pawan Kalyan of the Jana Sena said a senior leader in the TDP who wanted to remain anonymous. Much has been changed since TDP was founded by a movie mogul Nandamuri Takaraka Rama Rao, nearly four decades ago. Naidu wrestled hard to resuscitate himself in the fast-changing political atmosphere after he triumphed his father-in-law in the blatant coup in 1995 August, recalls political analyst Raja Sudhakar.

For the moment, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy grew up in the shadow of his father YS Rajasekhar Reddy. Sudhakar trusts that it is improbable that Nara Lokesh will succeed in the TDP’s dynasty politics if he fails to remake himself as his father did and become an apostle to politics as they are today. YSR, as popularly known as Rajasekhar Reddy, was killed in a helicopter crash in 2009 while he is going to participate in Rachhabanda program, during his second term in power. Soon after that his son, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy floated the YSR Congress and contested the polls in 2014 as heir-apparent of Rajasekhar Reddy. But the defeat in the election made him re-emerge as a self-made leader in 2017 when he began enervating 3,648 km padayatra (foot march) over 314 days over the entire Andhra Pradesh. And this brought him a thumping victory in the 2019 assembly elections in the state.

Political pundits believe that Nara Lokesh needs to be as creative and innovative as Jagan Mohan Reddy and come across with suitable alternative to Jagan’s if at all he wants to make his way in succession politics. For example, Chandrababu Naidu had assured to come up with a world-class capital in Amravati after Hyderabad went to Telangana when Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated. But, as the layman on the road knows better, Jagan’s story was that the focus on Amravati triggered regional imbalances, with the backward Rayalaseema and Uttarandhra at the receiving end. Soon after the ascending of the Chief Minister’s throne, Jagan strongly recommended decentralized development in the form of three capitals- the legislative capital at Amravati, the executive capital in Visakhapatnam, and Kurnool as judicial – as a check to Naidu’s Amravati-centric development plan. “To find an alternative to Jagan’s narrative of distributed capitals is still beyond everyone’s imagination, “said another senior TDP leader.

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