When Telugu Desam Party general secretary and Andhra Pradesh IT minister Nara Lokesh announced the party candidates for Kurnool Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies for 2019 elections, it evoked a lot of surprise even for the party leaders and cadre.
Senior TDP leader and Rajya Sabha member T G Venkatesh even questioned the authority of Lokesh in deciding and announcing the candidates well in advance, as such announcements have to come from party president and chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu.
Inquiries in the party revealed that Naidu has started grooming Lokesh slowly as his successor in the party.
Though he might not take over the party reins immediately, Naidu wants his son to be known to everybody as his heir apparent and he should be in a position to take decisions on his own.
Sources said Naidu has also asked Lokesh to make extensive tours in the districts from now on, get acquainted with the local party leaders and cadre, identify the suitable candidates for the next elections and assess the situation in the party as well as the rival parties.
Hereafter, Lokesh would tour districts at least for three days a week, while discharging his duties as minister in the Secretariat for the remaining period. On some occasions, he will club his official tours with political tours.
“In the coming days, one should not be surprised if Naidu makes Lokesh as party’s working president and gradually project him as the future chief minister by 2024,” a party source said.