Excl Interview with Nara Lokesh – Andhra is on a rapid development path

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There couldn’t have been a perfect setting for a freewheeling tête-à-tête with a budding politician, who already has made a mark for himself with numerous novel initiatives, clearly away from aping his father who continues to talk the new age lingo like block chain technology, artificial intelligence, machine learning, information dashboard and low hanging fruits.

That in a nutshell summarizes the lively Nara Lokesh contrasting himself – surely not in policies and thought process – with Telugu Desam Supremo and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu.

The cool climes of Vundavalli, a picturesque and a serene location on the banks of the River Krishna. Before meeting the IT minister, our team went round Amaravati and found rapid construction activity in progress.

Universities (VIT and SRM) have built swanky new campuses and secretariat area is abuzz with administrative and political activity. Land allotments are complete in core capital regions and rapid express way is still under construction.

After waiting for a while, we were ushered in for a one-on-one interview with Lokesh. Brimming with confidence, the Nara scion comes across as the one in complete grips of the departments he’s entrusted with.

Public vs. Private Life: 

  • I have been lucky to play three completely different roles in the last 10 years. First few years at Heritage, then as the general secretary of TDP and from the last 14 months as Minister. I feel Private sector job is most difficult as we have limited resources.

Interrupting — (Isn’t a government job more challenging given the bureaucracy and resistance to change?

  • No, I look at it the other way. All the bureaucrats want to make impact to the society and as people representatives our job is to facilitate their success. That is what I try to do. I have a very good team of 7 IAS officers and as a first-time minister they made my first few months seamless.

First few months as Minister? Was it overwhelming?I have three portfolios, each a full-time job in itself – Information Technology, Panchayiti Raj and Rural Development. First couple of months I just tried to get my hands around all the portfolios and get a grasp of minute details.

How are you able to manage three portfolios simultaneously, along with party responsibilities?

  • I believe if we work efficiently we can manage. I’m a big believer in real time governance. So we developed extensive reporting capability. You can go to http://www.mydepartments.in/PRRWS/ministerHomePage and you can get every minute detail of what is happening in my areas. I don’t need to make 100 phone calls to get status. Every Monday, I go through all the reports and delegate the work accordingly. This way, we have been able to make tremendous progress in all the areas. I believe in democratizing the data. So I make every effort to make data as transparent as possible.

(Editor’s Note: This website is worth checking, given the amount of real time information captured. KPI’s are set for each areas and officials are tracking as per KPI’s).

About YS Jagan:

  • Jagan gaaru has been going on Padayatra. I ask him, why should people vote for your party? Till now, I don’t think he spelled out anything clearly what his party will do instead of levelling baseless allegations on CM Gaaru.

About Pawan Kalyan:

  • As I have tweeted earlier, I have complete respect for Pawan Kalyan gaaru.

(Did you anticipate Pawan’s attack)

  • No, I was participating in an event at VIT that day and then another at KLU. I am still not sure why Pawan gaaru, being in a responsible position as head of a party, makes unfounded allegations. I have challenged them to prove and till now there is no reply. Pawan gaaru just told later ‘vallu annnaru vellu annaru’, which I’m not sure which a person of Pawan’s stature should be making. In spirit of our leader, we always try to go with positive approach.

Social Media and Personal attacks:

  • Our country is primarily an agrarian economy. For the core voter in villages, print media is sacrosanct. Then there is impact of electronic media. Social media is significant for new age voters – below 30 years and many voters who might be voting for the first time. From TDP perspective, we make sure we spend 33% of efforts in print, 33% in electronic and 33% in social media.

Does personal attacks in social media pain you?

  • No, I’m a very positive person and look things at a positive light. I also tell my team to spread the positive message as much as possible and this direction comes from the Leader

About Chandra Babu in person:

(For outside world, Chandra babu is always WORK, WORK, WORK. We rarely see him talking anything apart state, politics. What do you guys talk about when only two of you are sitting for a morning coffee).

  • Yes, he is always into work even off the camera. He doesn’t know anything except People, politics, philosophy. He has spent last 40 years with the party and people and so he just enjoys what he is doing. We can’t do any gossiping with him as he doesn’t know anything outside of work. Even when we go on vacation (which in itself is very rare once in 2 years) he is still always on phone following up on pending tasks.

About Media in Andhra:

  • I always try to have good relation with media. Media is one of the main pillars in democracy and we always try to be as transparent as possible.

(Referring to news coverage of the day..)

  • Yesterday, the state bagged a huge project Flex. My team and I have spent significant time on this, fending competition from Gujarat we were able to get this project to the state. Sakshi allocated a small box in inner pages. I just laughed seeing that. I believe no one media can suppress information from readers.

2019 elections

  • Chandragiri or Penamaluru? I haven’t even given it a thought and It is up to our boss and the party. I’m always a true soldier to the party and will abide by our boss’ decision.

Confident of winning 2019?

  • Yes, TDP made some big promises in 2014 and we are happy that we are able to deliver on all of them. Each of those promises take 5 years in itself and given the tight financial situation, all kudos to our CM gaaru for delivering on all the promises.

(Last time you won all the seats in East and West Godavari, which are going to be the key in 2019. Given Pawan Kalyan are you confident of winning majority in East and West Godavari?)

  • I think Pawan Kalyan’s impact is going to be minimal. Till now, he didn’t concretely spell out what exactly his party will be doing

Telugu Associations in USA:

  • Chandra Babu Naidu gaaru has made it clear multiple times — As far as we are concerned, AP NRT is the only association we recognize and urge all the NRI’s to contribute/work through NRT. From a party perspective, we don’t endorse any of the associations. Urge all the NRI’s to use AP NRT platform. It has great benefits and Ravi Vemuru has played a pivotal role in conceptualizing it and making AP NRT a big success.

About family:

  • I’m blessed to have Nara Brahmani and given both of our busy schedules we try to spend quality time with Devansh. He is growing up fast….

Thanks to the Minister and his dedicated team for the interview.

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