Lokesh – The Person
Nara Lokesh is a new age leader who is following the footsteps of his grandfather, the legendary Nanadamuri Taraka Rama Rao (NTR), and his father Nara Chandrababu Naidu. Lokesh combines in his person the passion of his grandfather and the political vision and strategic excellence of his father. A successful, self-made man, Lokesh pursued education at Ivy League universities and had a productive stint at World Bank. After leading the family business to extraordinary profits Lokesh found his true calling to serve the people and build the TDP as an enabler to convert Telugu people’s aspirations into reality.
Family and Education
Born into a political family Lokesh has seen the trials and tribulations of public life from close quarters. As a child he saw his maternal grandfather the late N.T. Rama Rao (NTR) and father N. Chandrababu Naidu both serve as chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh. Many members of his extended family have been into politics, films and business with its associated power, influence and public adulation. Always close to power and yet away from it, Lokesh’s childhood and formative years were spent in pursuit of education, family values and principles of ethical living. Lokesh is the only child of Chandrababu Naidu and Bhuvaneswari. With Mr. Naidu busy in politics and administration, he grew up under the care of his mother.Despite being at the helm of power for long years, the atmosphere and lifestyle at home was always sober and simple. This greatly influenced Lokesh as both Mr. Naidu and Ms. Bhuvaneswari believe in simple living habits while stressing on values such as hard work, disciple and commitment to the task at hand.His grandfather NTR’s overarching personality, and his concern and passion for the society, Telugu people and the downtrodden also left an imprint on Lokesh. These early influences shapedhis outlook and helped him find his foot in the real world as he moved to the United States for higher education. After doing a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Information Systems from Carnegie Mellon University, Lokesh secured entry into the prestigious Stanford University GSB where he successfully completed Master’s in Business Administration.In 2007 Lokesh married his cousin Bramhani, the eldest daughter of his maternal uncle and the hugely popular Telugu film actor Nandamuri Balakrishna.
His interest in harnessing technology for administrative excellence drove Lokeshto work for World Bank where he was involved in projects such as building Ethiopia's e-Governance capacity and assisting South Sudan’s public sector, ICT and e-Governance plans. He returned to India in 2008 to take charge of the family’s retail business Heritage Group, which was being managed by his mother. As Executive Director, Lokesh brought in major changes at Heritage by streamlining the systems and expanding into new geographies and services. Profits at Heritage which were languishing at Rs. 630 crore in 2008, catapulted to Rs. 1,600 crore by 2013 when he left business to assist his father full time in politics.
The decade 2004-14 under the UPA Government at the Centre and the Congress regime in Andhra Pradesh has been marked by pathetic governance, slowdown in investments, stalled projects and jobless growth. This period has also seen rampant crony capitalism and rank political opportunism resulting in unprecedented levels of corruption, criminalization and fanning of regional sentiments in the state. Lokesh’s political entry happened when the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) as well as the people of undivided Andhra Pradesh were undergoing one of the most difficult times. By festering regional conflicts and encouraging defections, the Congress tried to destabilize the opposition. People were driven to despondency and lost faith in political process as the ruling party created discord among regions. TDP, which has strong organization and committed workers across all three regions, was put on the back foot because of the Congress’s political opportunism. By May 2013, when Lokesh started participating more actively in TDP affairs, the party was in a crisis. It had seen two straight stints in opposition and was launching a severe fight back on the success of its president N. Chandrababu Naidu’s state-wide padayatra. In such an atmosphere, the emergence of Lokesh’s modern, visionary and focused approach proved to be a big boost to the party and the political atmosphere in the state. Lokesh explored new horizons and brought in new ideas that galvanized the cadre while providing a clear direction on the issues that the party needed to focus on to come back to power.
Interests and Hobbies
The Nara-Nandamuri household represents a happy marriage of tradition and modernity. The NTR legacy ensures that Telugu culture, arts, language, family and civilizational values are given the pride of place. The family is also rooted to land and farming as both Mr. NTR and Mr. Naidu hail from humble origins and pride themselves as sons of soil. A strong work ethic, dedication and commitment to a cause are emphasized. This background, coupled with Mr. Naidu’s political vision and reformist impulses, has meant that the family has always been open to modern ideas. Physical fitness, adaption of technology and being at the top of learning curve in one’s chosen field are the things that drive Lokesh. Lokesh is a health freak who likes cycling and swimming and has wide range of interests in media, film making and entrepreneurship.