Historical Chaitanya Ratham loses helmsman
Chaitanya Ratham means a chariot of awakening It was a concept of Telugu Desam party founder Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao who was first to ride the Chevrolet van and hit the road in 1982 He travelled over 75,000 km in the runup to the elections in 1983 He met people extensively and gave speeches to awaken people and secured a landslide victory He came to power within nine months of forming the p
Hyderabad: Chaitanya Ratham means a chariot of awakening. It was a concept of Telugu Desam party founder Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao who was first to ride the Chevrolet van and hit the road in 1982. He travelled over 75,000 km in the run-up to the elections in 1983. He met people extensively and gave speeches to awaken people and secured a landslide victory. He came to power within nine months of forming the party.
The landslide victory was not possible to the then TDP supremo, if Nandamuri Harikrishna did not steer the Chaitanya Ratham. As a ‘ratha sarathi’ to the Chaitanya Ratham, they both found an enduring place in the pages of history as pioneers of modern election campaign techniques.
With the theme of Telugu self-respect on his lips, the TDP founder roused the masses and defeated the ruling Congress. The election was a landmark in the country’s political history as his party defeating a century-old party. For months, the Chaitanya Ratham trundled along the lush green paddy fields of coastal Andhra Pradesh, the dry landscape of Rayalaseema and Telangana and through the busy thoroughfares of the towns.
The ‘ratham’ had rotating flood lights on either side and loudspeakers that blared the familiar soul –stirring song ‘Maa Telugu thalli ki mallepudanda’ catching the attention of the people. It had ample space for NTR and his aides to work or relax. He would climb on to the top through a hatch.
Rain or shine, the star campaigner sat atop the vehicle waving at people, who often waited for hours on the roadside, even cooking their food in makeshift kitchens. Whether it was a small or big group, Harikrishna with his father’s direction used to stop the vehicle and interact with the people and then leave with his trademark left hand wave. They used to cover nearly 100 km everyday.
They would pull the ‘Ratham’ to the roadside for a bath and interact with villagers and passing truck drivers, ate idlies, pesarattu-upma and coffee as their daily agenda. Women would stop the ratham to offer arathi. NTR’s novel style later has spawned many a ‘ratham’ all over the country, but the ‘Chaitanya Ratham’ remains matchless till today.
And the contribution made by Harikrishna in the ‘Chaitanya Ratham’ yatra will be remembered for ever.