It seems to be almost built into the DNA of our politicians, this overwhelming urge to secure a place for their own family members. And yet, we thought at times, and in hindsight somewhat foolishly, that there are certain politicians that float above the fray. Only to be disappointed. One such was N Chandrababu Naidu, a politician with a difference we thought, one for whom development and business promotion were the defining mantras. But he too has proved to have feet of clay. The Andhra Pradesh chief minister is all set to induct his only son Nara Lokesh into the state cabinet . The son, has according to Naidu, been striving to strengthen the party ever since he took to active politics in 2013. Now this seems a remarkably short time compared to the innings of many others in the Telugu Desam party, but blood clearly is thicker than political experience.
Lokesh is at present general secretary of the TDP but is not a member of the state legislative assembly or council. Naidu’s track record as a man given to promoting merit is what is causing this disquiet because politicians inducting their own kith and kin into positions of power is par for the course in our politics. In neighbouring Telangana, KT Rama Rao, son of the chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao is already in the cabinet and holds the key portfolios of IT and industries and is the clear successor to his father who seems increasingly given to pursuing vaastu and offerings to deities.
In Naidu’s earlier stint, he was seen as one politician who was so focused on his work that he gave no thought to the promotion of his family. His wife was rarely seen even though other members of his family were in politics. So we came to expect the rare meritocrat in politics who spoke so eloquently about his blueprint to make Andhra Pradesh a manufacturing and IT hub. But when it comes to the crunch, he too seems to feel the need to promote a close family member whom he can trust, hence his son’s imminent induction into the cabinet. The normal excuse given for this sort of nepotism is that the `people’ want such relatives in politics as they are seen as a chip of the old block. In some cases, it is taken to extremes as we have seen. Sasikala feels entitled to the top slot by mere association with the late elected chief minister as do her myriad relatives. In some cases, an undeserving relative is chosen to keep the seat warm for a politician who may be facing charges and hence unable to occupy the position. And in many cases, the sycophants in the party seem unable to see beyond a particular family. Many in the Telugu Desam have hailed the proposed elevation as a great life-saver for the party. Chandrababu Naidu may have portrayed himself as a self-made politician but let us not forget that he too was not without dynastic connections. He is the son-in-law of late chief minister of the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh NT Rama Rao and was able quite effectively to eclipse his stepmother-in-law to take over the party. So, in a way, he is running true to type with his son’s elevation. So much for the politician with a difference.