Both are striving to take over the mantle of their respective fiefs in the future. The acrimony existing in the exchanges between Nara Lokesh and KT Rama Rao is what is keeping the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh politically charged.
Hyderabad: On the one corner is the son of a powerful politico. On the other is the progeny of another equally top leader. Both have arrived in India after a stint in America. Ambitious as they are, both of them hope to build on their respective father's legacies. Both are striving to take over the mantle of their respective fiefs in the future. Both can't stand each other and the war of words between the two is always furious.
It may look like the plot of a typical pot boiler that Tollywood churns out regularly.
But in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, such events are more dramatic than in real than on reel.
The two leaders having a go at each other incessantly are: Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu's son Nara Lokesh and Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao's son KT Rama Rao (KTR).
38-year-old Nara Lokesh is the minister for information technology, panchayati raj and rural development. The suave, urban KTR, aged 43, was the information technology and panchayat raj minister in the previous term in neighbouring Telangana.
Ever since Chandrababu Naidu and Chandrasekhar Rao had a fallout, and the two states had a complicated and painful bifurcation, there has been plenty of needles between the two states and the two leaders. Now, the focus on the respective sons, who both are incidentally being primed for taking over political power from their dads in the future.
"As both of them hold (or have held) similar portfolios in their respective state Cabinets, there is a sense of a parallels to their careers. Both have a keen interest in the IT sector. One person's dad made Hyderabad the cyber capital of India. Another person's father is now further pushing Hyderabad as the technology nerve centre. So it has been easy for the media to project a narrative of their rivalry," B H Venkat, a political correspondent in Telangana, said. "But the thing is the two are actually following the facile script and are targeting each other regularly," he added.
Just last Saturday, KTR predicted that the TDP would lose the upcoming state and Lok Sabha elections in Andhra Pradesh. KTR further said that the YSR Congress would sweep the elections in the State.
And Nara Lokesh could not hold himself for long before taking a jibe at his projected bete noire. He responded by saying in a tweet that forces were conspiring against Chandrababu Naidu, but their efforts would come to nought.
Lokesh described the Prime Minister as 'Delhi Modi', KCR as 'Telangana Modi' and YS Jaganmohan Reddy (son of former chief minister of united Andhra Pradesh YS Rajasekhara Reddy) as 'Andhra Modi'. He also pooh-poohed their efforts to fight the elections by getting into a "covert alliance".
As per early indications, YSR Congress is predicted to do well in Andhra Pradesh, while the TRS is expected to sweep Telangana. Though the two parties have not aligned openly with the BJP, the allegation, however, is that there is some kind of an understanding among the three.
Further, both Jagan and KTR met each other a few weeks ago and have talked of a federal front, which could help them leverage their position when dealing with the BJP at the Centre.
Anyway, the potential union of the three have been a source of irritation for the TDP, and there is a mud-slinging match amongst the involved parties almost on a daily basis.
While that is mundane politics, the acrimony existing in the exchanges between Lokesh and KTR is what is keeping the media excited.
KTR is the senior of the two, and is generally seen as being more accomplished of the two. He is very articulate (fluent in Telugu, Hindi, English and Urdu) and brings in a genteel flair to the rough terrain of dusty politics in Telangana. KTR has proved himself both as a minister and a party administrator. Lokesh, relatively inexperienced, went to Stanford, and is still learning the ropes. As a minister, he is on the right track, and as a party leader, these are early days yet for him.
Both the fathers are still in charge and have not fully let go all of their hold. But the two sons are allowed to have a huge say in the choice of candidates for the forthcoming polls. "Make no mistake, they are building themselves up and are clearly setting the stage for their inevitable takeover later," said J Chitralekha, a professor of humanities in Hyderabad. "It may not happen in a year or two. But you can see both of them in total charge for the next round of state elections (around 2024)," she said.
But with the third angle, Jagan, another protege to a powerful political father, also in the thick of things, it will make the battle more interesting and intense.
In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, it's not just the food, even the politics is quite spicy.
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Last Updated 25, Feb 2019, 4:37 PM