Though 'JD' has made his political intentions apparent, it is not clear whether he will float a new party or join any of the existing mainstream parties.

Meet JD Lakshminarayana the former CBI officer trying his luck with Andhra politicsFacebook / JD Lakshminarayana
news Politics Friday, May 04, 2018 - 08:18

The launch of a six-day mass contact programme by former CBI Joint Director VV Lakshminarayana in the backward north coastal Andhra region from May 3 has become a talking point in political circles. He will be participating in community lunches with the commoners and rachabanda-type interactions with sugarcane farmers, sugar industry workers and victims of irrigation projects. He made his political intentions clear during his recent visit in Guntur district, but it is not clear whether he will float a new party or join any of the existing mainstream parties.

It’s not uncommon for a retired bureaucrat to appear on public platforms. He claims that he has interacted with over 15 lakh youths in the two Telugu states while in service and after retirement. He chose Lead India, a non-profit network of professionals and NGOs, as a medium to reach out to his target groups and has become a well-liked figure in the urban, educated middle-class. What helped him grab the imagination of this section is his focus on political corruption, probity in public life, accountability and transparency in administration. 

The crusader against corruption 

Lakshminarayana hails from the temple town of Srisailam in Kurnool district, which is in the faction-ridden Rayalaseema region. He shot to the limelight as a crusader against political corruption by arresting the present Leader of Opposition of AP assembly, YS Jaganmohan Reddy, in the disproportionate assets cases during the UPA-II regime.

He has also handled the Obulapuram mining case, in which the Ballari Reddy brothers were accused of indulging in illegal mining, the investigation of financial fraud by Byrraju Ramalingaraju of Satyam Computers and Emmar Projects cases. Over time, he developed a tough cop image and ‘JD’ (acronym for Joint Director) replaced his original initials as a prefix in the public domain, although he retired from the Indian Police Service with the IG rank.

Lakshminarayana has since adopted a village in Telangana’s backward district of Mahabubnagar.

Repeat of JP, and a wary TDP

Lakshminarayana speaks the language popularised by Lok Satta Party founder N. Jayaprakash Narayana. JP, who turned a whistleblower after retiring from the IAS, launched Lok Satta, a civil society organisation, with the noble cause of cleansing the polity tainted with corruption and criminals. He transformed the outfit into a political party and made forays in politics in 2009.

He has been a household name for nearly 15 years in the section of voters aspiring for a polity free of corruption, and his party was targeted by the TDP for splitting its urban vote bank in favour of the Congress. JP speaking Naidu’s language has taken a heavy toll on TDP’s winning prospects in the past.

Lakshminarayana now seems to be tapping into the same section of voters. 

Given the past experience, the ruling TDP is wary of his moves. “We have to wait and see whether he is part of Modi’s B-team,” a senior TDP leader from Guntur district told TNM. He added, “Lakshminarayana’s antecedents reveal that he is a member of the Sangh Parivar since his college days. We need some more time to decipher his hidden agenda.” 

M Padmanabha Reddy, secretary of the Forum for Good Governance, says people are looking up to bureaucrats because of the failure of politicians to address even basic public issues. But even as bureaucrats with a clean track record, like Lakshminarayana, are venturing into politics, they are unlikely to succeed since politics is a different ball game, says Reddy. 

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