Nara Lokesh called taking a selfie with supporters during his yatra. (Photo by arrangement)
ANANTAPUR: About 200 paid bouncers, a special caravan vehicle and 400 volunteers have been deputed for discharge of responsibilities relating to food, accommodation, social media and arrangements for the public meetings during TD general secretary Nara Lokesh’s 4000-km Yuva Galam padayatra.
The yatra that lasts 400 days was launched at Kuppam, home turf of N. Chandrababu Naidu, after Lokesh and other leaders offered puja at the historic Varadaraja Swamy temple at 11 am.
Unlike the padayatras of other leaders in the state, the TD is keen on following the styles of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra that had made excellent advance arrangements and facilities along the journey route. The 40-year-old Lokesh is 12 years younger to Rahul Gandhi.
Lokesh also offered prayers at a local mosque and church and paid floral tributes to the statues of NTR and BR Ambedkar in Kuppam.
TD state unit president K. Atchannaidu led the teams organising the Lokesh padayatra. The TD is reportedly not depended on the police for bandobast and has instead fielded bouncers and volunteers to meet emergency needs.
A few minutes after the launch of the yatra, film star and TD leader Nandamuri Taraka Rathna collapsed outside the mosque and was shifted by volunteers and bouncers through the huge crowds of party cadres spread out on the road.
Kuppam town was awash with flags and boards of TD, greeting Lokesh on the first leg of his yatra from Kuppam to Ichchapuram on the Odisha borders. Thousands of Telugu Desam activists arrived at Kuppam to join the yatra that covered eight km on Friday.
Lokesh called on youths to be a part of his yatra, "to fight against Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy who, he alleged was "cheating" all sections of the population."
Notably, TD chief N. Chandrababu Naidu has not attended the public meeting while Lokesh’s father-in- law Nandamuri Balakrishna joined the yatra at Kuppam. Balakrishna, however, had to rush to a hospital to care Nandamuri Taraka Rathna who suffered a heart attack.