TG Venkatesh sees invisible hand of Akhila Priya in TDP candidates for Kurnool in 2019 polls
Lokesh, during his twoday visit to Kurnool, sprang a surprise at an official meeting where Mohan Reddy and Renuka were present by announcing their names and asked the people of the two constituencies to elect them with a thumping majority
Hyderabad: Why did IT Minister N Lokesh, who is also general secretary of the TDP, announce the names of SV Mohan Reddy and Butta Renuka as TDP candidates for the Kurnool Assembly and Lok Sabha seats even though there is uncertainty over when elections would be held?
Lokesh, during his two-day visit to Kurnool, sprang a surprise at an official meeting where Mohan Reddy and Renuka were present by announcing their names and asked the people of the two constituencies to elect them with a thumping majority.
The announcement may have warmed the cockles of the two leaders but ruffled the feathers of Rajya Sabha member TG Venkatesh, who is keen on getting party nomination for his son Bharat in the next Assembly elections.
For quite some time now, Bharat has been proclaiming himself as the candidate of the Telugu Desam Party for Kurnool in the next elections. He says the letters ‘TG’ are a household name in Kurnool for various service activities he had been doing and therefore the people would repose faith in him in the elections.
But Lokesh threw a douche of cold water at the TG family by reserving the two seats to Mohan Reddy and Renuka. Unable to stomach the sudden development, TG Venkatesh said unless the announcement comes from horse’s mouth – party chief and Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, nothing is final. He said SV Mohan Reddy may have “hypnotised” Lokesh into making an announcement in his favour.
According to sources, a lot of behind the scenes activity took place before Lokesh made the announcement. Tourism Minister B Akhila Priya, who has a good rapport with Lokesh, reportedly influenced him into making the announcement since Mohan Reddy is her late mother Sobha Nagireddy’s brother. Since announcing Mohan Reddy’s name alone would not look proper, he picked up Renuka’s name too, who is any way hot favourite for the Kurnool Lok Sabha seat.
The sources said that if the announcement comes from Lokesh, even Naidu would not be able to say ‘NO’ at a later stage as, if he does, it would trigger a major controversy that father had over-ruled son, who is considered his heir apparent to the Chief Minister’s gaddi.
In fact, Lokesh spoke his mind out on the candidatures of Mohan Reddy and Renuka at a time when Naidu was away in Singapore, attending the World Cities Summit. Mohan Reddy, who like Renuka defected to the TDP from the YSRCP, says that Lokesh had only stated what has already been decided by the Chief Minister. “At several review meetings, Naidu had confirmed the party ticket to me,” he said.
He found fault with Venkatesh for questioning the wisdom of Lokesh in announcing the names ahead of elections. “As general secretary of the party, Lokesh can announce the names. In fact, it is a good tradition to declare the names of the candidates much ahead of elections,” he said.
Mohan Reddy is understood to have told his confidants that there was no way ticket could go to anyone as he was taken into the TDP on the condition that the party ticket would be allotted to him. As this would mean denial of ticket to TG Venkatesh, he was sent to Rajya Sabha but Venkatesh now wants the TDP ticket for his son, Bharat, and has, ever since, been making moves to influence the party leadership.
As there is always the danger of Venkatesh influencing Chandrababu Naidu since he has unlimited resources, Akhila Priya, through Lokesh, has dealt a preemptive blow on him and ensured that her uncle would get party nomination. “Allotment of ticket to Mohan Reddy has become a fait accompli now,” said one source in the TDP.
Mohan Reddy too expressed similar opinion that the decision in his favour remained unannounced till now and when Lokesh spilling the beans, he was only reiterating what has been agreed upon. Interestingly, both Mohan Reddy and sitting Lok Sabha member Renuka have migrated to the TDP from the YSRCP, while Akhila Priya who is calling shots in Kurnool politics is also from the YSRCP.
Mohan Reddy defeated TG Venkatesh who contested from the Kurnool Assembly seat on TDP ticket in 2014 with a majority of over 3,700 votes. Renuka won the Kurnool Lok Sabha seat on the YSRC ticket, defeating Telugu Desam Party’s B T Naidu with a margin of over 44,000 votes. Akhila Priya was elected unopposed from Allagadda on YSRCP ticket after the death of incumbent - her mother – Shobha Nagireddy in a road accident ahead of 2014 elections.