“Our Alliance will win 160 MLA seats, 23 MP seats; people will bless us,” says Nara Lokesh

Shaping himself into an astute politician, TDP general secretary Nara Lokesh exuded confidence that the NDA would win 160 Assembly seats and 23 Lok Sabha seats from Andhra Pradesh.

“Our Alliance will win 160 MLA seats, 23 MP seats; people will bless us,” says Nara Lokesh

HYDERABAD: Shaping himself into an astute politician, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) general secretary Nara Lokesh has exuded confidence that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) – the troika of the TDP, the BJP and the Jana Sena – would win 160 Assembly seats and 23 Lok Sabha seats from Andhra Pradesh.

In an exclusive interview to NewsTAP here on Thursday, Nara Lokesh said that the TDP would continue to negotiate with the Centre on ‘special category status’ (SCS) for the State of Andhra Pradesh and he said the TDP was minority-friendly and it would continue to espouse the cause of that section of people.


Home Minister Amit Shah announced that Muslim reservation per se will be cancelled. The TDP claims to be a minority-friendly party. Now, there is a dichotomy between the alliance partners. And, how do you gel with them?

No, our interest is the State's interest. We are the largest partner in Andhra Pradesh. We will protect the reservation for minorities.

What is your stand on NPR, NRC and CAA (which the Muslims feel are against their interests)?

I have studied the Bill. Our stand is very clear that it will not affect the Muslims who are living in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Therefore, we don’t see any challenges there. And, the TDP will protect the interests of the minorities in the in both the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

In one YouTube interview, you have accepted that Mr Naidu will be the Chief Minister and there is no negotiation about it with the NDA partners. In such an event, Pawan Kalyan can't be the Chief Minister…

No, I didn't say that. I did not say that he is the only Chief Minister candidate. Please see the wording. I think what you are using is wrong. I would find fault in that. I said that Mr Naidu is the Chief Minister face of the Alliance in the State of Andhra Pradesh.

What does it mean, sir? He is the Chief Minister. That's it. So you are not going to partner that top job with anyone?

It was never even discussed (amongst the alliance partners). So, therefore, where does that entire question arise in this context?

Why will Kapus vote (for the Alliance) when their man is not going to be the Chief Minister?

I'm sorry. Kapus have always stood by the Telugu Desam Party. Reservation for Kapus has been brought by the TDP. Kapu Corporation was launched. Funds were given by the TDP Government. Politically and financially, if Kapus have come up, one of the major reasons is the Telugu Desam Party.

Traditionally, to tell you, the TDP is a manufacturer of leaders since 1982. NTR had picked up people from the rags and made them leaders. And, some people, who are evolving just then, like Chandrababu Naidu were made into Chief minister materials. Naidu has accelerated this activity and made leaders of export quality. And, he sent Sujana Chowdary, CM Ramesh, TG Venkatesh and Garikapati Mohan Rao into the BJP and they lived as BJP MPs. But they did Chandrababu Naidu's job there. And, today, in Anaparthi, Nalamilli Ramakrishna Reddy was “exported” into the BJP and he is the contestant. What is your take on this?

Well, if you say that, KCR garu is from the TDP, Revanth Reddy garu is from the TDP.

Yeah. Mr Naidu has exported Revanth Reddy...

No, he has not. KCR garu’s roots are from the Telugu Desam Party. Harish anna's roots are from the Telugu Desam Party. See, the Telugu Desam Party does build leaders. I mean… what is your question?

With these leaders who have strong relationship with Mr Chandrababu Naidu, it is not as if they have any ideological differences with the TDP. They are very loyal to Chandrababu Naidu and they work as his proxies in those parties and his moles there...

Umm..I think no. No, they are not moles. How do you say they are moles? I mean if you have any proof for that they are moles, then please share. I mean, end of the day, I leave it to the judgment of the MPs on why they have left the TDP and have joined the BJP. We have not sent anyone. In terms of Anaparti seat, it is a pure challenge that we had that as an alliance. We said that whoever has the winning chances and is the best candidate, I think that candidate should contest. In fact, even in Avanigadda, Mandali Buddha Prasad garu went from the TDP to the Jana Sena. So, it's about whoever is the best candidate to win an election, the alliance has fielded them. If you say that, YCP’s Chittoor MLA went to the JSP and is contesting as Tirupati MLA. They are other people also to whom YCP has given MP tickets like Gummanuru Jayaram and they said no to it and they come to the TDP.

In fact, even in Satyavedu, you know Tirupati MP candidate has come to us. So, therefore, see we believe that this is a smaller part. But if you look at the Telugu Desam as a whole, we continue to build leaders. If you look at the amount of fresh faces we have given tickets this time, our frontal organisation -- say our SC cell -- president is now our MLA candidate in Madaksira. So, we are promoting young leaders and we will continue to promote young leaders.

This reverse osmosis (of leaders from the alliance partners into TDP) did not happen with the TDP. In this combination, nobody came from the BJP and joined the TDP for contesting. Nobody came from the Jana Sena to the TDP and contested.

OK. The YSRCP and the TDP are proceeding to different poles. See, let's accept a fact that the TDP, as you rightly said, has a knack and we have the ability to create next generation leaders and to promote leaders. And this is across both the Telugu states. As ironic as it may be, I am saying that we will continue to do. You know, we will continue to build leaders and some leaders may choose to leave us. Some leaders will continue with us. And, as an alliance, the clear understanding is out of 175 seats, the question is how do I win every seat possible.

So, whoever is the best candidate should contest. And that was the understanding that we have.

Has Mr Naidu’s family hammered out differences with your ‘peddamma’ (maternal aunt)?

Sir. Our difference is purely political in nature. We never had any personal animosity like Jagan has had with his uncle. So we never had any personal animosity. See, end of the day, we truly believe that politics is different from family. So everyone has a right to choose to be in whichever party they want to be. And, we are here not to pass judgement. And politically, when Purandeshwari garu was in the Congress, the Telugu Desam Party never criticised her personally.

And it’s not only her. It could even mean Rajasekhar Reddy garu. It could mean Kiran Kumar Reddy garu or Rosaiah garu. Because, we are not into that politics. We would only criticise on the policies. We would criticise when we have evidence against a certain decision taken by the leader. To that extent, we have stood and we continue to hold the same stand, and same rule to anyone.

What is your stand on special category status which is done and dusted during Mr Naidu's time. But again the TDP has espoused that cause after being pushed to the Opposition and is it still simmering or are you going to press for it or make compromises like last time?

See, end of the day, if you look at it, none of the states so far have been endowed with special category status. Definitely, favourable endowment has to be given to the state of Andhra Pradesh, because we need a hand out to stand on our legs. We are a capitalist state. If you look at the amount of good work that Mr Naidu has done in the five years of his government. It has allowed this government to sort of sustain that fuel. Now the fuel is in reserve.

Definitely, we are talking to the central government with regard to Polavaram. We are talking with regard to Amravati. We are talking to them with regard to Vishakha railway zone, Visakha steel plant. So these are issues that we are already talking about, right? And we will continue to talk about it. There is no second thought and we are going to pursue whatever is part of the Bifurcation Bill. We believe is our right and we will continue to talk, negotiate and come up with an amicable solution.

So are you confident that you are getting back to power? How many seats, what is the number?

In terms of the 175 as an alliance, we believe that nothing less than 160 seats in the Assembly and nothing less than 23 MPs as an alliance.

Isn’t that too much of an expectation?

I think it is fair to have that expectation. Because we've done so much work for the people of Andhra Pradesh. We were able to expose the misdoings of Jaganmohan Reddy garu. And, we truly believe that people of Andhra Pradesh will bless this alliance with that kind of abundance.

But, KCR has said that from what he is hearing, Jagan is winning…

Of late, he seems to be getting his electoral predictions wrong. I think he predicted the same in the Assembly elections in 2023 that they are going to sweep. So, I leave it to his wisdom and judgment. I think it's unfair for me to comment on a former Chief minister.

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