Hyderabad: Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has set up a call centre that will function as a grievance cell of the party. Nara Lokesh, Stanford-educated son of Andhra chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, who inaugurated the call centre with 22 lines at the party office – NTR Trust Bhavan – in Jubilee Hills, said it would presently work on a 12-hour shift from morning to evening and record problems faced by party workers.
“TDP Workers Welfare Fund would strive to solve their problems,” said Lokesh, who has been active in the party since the last two years and is seen as Naidu’s heir apparent.
Lokesh who is virtually the party’s mouthpiece, writes and tweets on party policies, and attacks opponents like KCR and others in Telangana on the social media. Many senior party leaders consider him the official party spokesman.
He has also corporatised party administration and controls TDP workers directly from Hyderabad. Even senior ministers, MPs and party veterans have to wait hours to meet him and are expected to conduct programmes that he designs. He has also been allegedly installing his ‘yes men’ in Chandrababu Naidu government and planning to position his henchmen as personal secretaries of ministers. He is also said to have drawn up a list of journalists who could be employed as PROs in government offices, ministries and in CMO.
Although he is described as just a party worker and fund coordinator, Naidu has left the party to Lokesh’s care while he is stuck to governance issues.
“No doubt Lokesh is an able leader who is looking after party affairs, but he cannot be dubbed political successor to Chandrababu Naidu as TDP is a democratic party,: said party veteran and deputy CM KE Krishnamurthy from Rayalaseema.
Lokesh had made a lot of changes in the party structure. He summarily removed an ‘IT wing’ within the party that was reporting to a relative of Union minister YS Chowdhary. It was after this that he drew up plans to revitalize the party election campaign using technology that he ran parallel to Naidu’s padayatra to attract rural voters in 20013.
Lokesh’s strategy managed to ably counter the YSR Congress campaign and belittle Jagan and YSRC leadership during the 2014 general elections in which TDP won 106 of the 175 assembly and 17 parliament seats. It also managed to wipe out the Congress. The only opponent left in the field is YSRC with 67 assembly and 8 parliament seats.
Lokesh-led party online membership drive fetched TDP 54 lakh primary members who paid Rs 100 as subscription fee and were in turn insured (accident) for Rs 2 lakh.
Officials in CMO said some of Lokesh’s initiatives had helped the government save Rs 700 crore by streamlining the Public Distribution System (PDS) by correlating Aadhar data with government schemes.