Every other political leader is taking out a rath yatra these days to gain public support. But none of them are able to match late Telugu Desam founder-leader N.T. Rama Rao who pioneered the concept. Politicians of the state preferred to address the public from the stage till then. But NTR adopted a new style and took to the roads, meeting people in their villages and towns.
His “Chaithanya Ratham” covered 72,000 kilometres in the state in a span of 35 days during the run up to the Assembly elections in 1983. Driven by his son Harikrishna (who is a Telugu Desam Rajya Sabha member now), NTR extensively toured the state with the song Maa Telugu Talliki Mallapudanda playing on loud speakers. And wherever he went, he attracted large crowds even if it was late in the night or early in the morning. And the speeches he delivered in his powerful voice really stirred the masses. The Chaithanya Ratham tour is still the role model for politicians.
NTR’s son in law and TD chief, Mr Chandrababu Naidu toured about 10,000 km in 115 days as part of his Meekosam rath yatra recently. Similarly, megastar Chiranjeevi is now on the first leg of his Praja Ankita yatra in the state in his specially designed chariot. The Chief Minister, Dr Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, too depends on yatras to shore up his image. His padayatra before the 2004 elections catapulted him to power and his official programmes such as Palle Baata and Nagara Baata were also in the same mode.