nandamuri Harikrishna: A man who loved wheels and driving
When NTR began his innings in politics, Harikrishna became the ‘charioteer’
On reel, he played Arjuna, but when his father N.T. Rama Rao began his political innings, Nandamuri Harikrishna took charge of the wheel. He became the ‘charioteer’ of NTR’s Chaitanya Ratham to raise awareness about Telugu pride.
Driving almost non-stop except for pit stops and stump speeches were Harikrishna, then 26, and his aide Krishna Prasad Reddy.
“He taught me everything about driving. He told me ‘Your judgement of road should be correct and nothing will happen to you. You don’t have to fear anything.’ I used that as a lesson,” says Mr. Reddy, unable to hold back tears while trying to catch a last glimpse of Harikrishna.
For eight months during which NTR was on the road before 1983 elections, the vehicle reportedly logged 75,000 km. It was either Harikrishna or Reddy who drove the vehicle. “I could sense his tiredness and would tell him to change seats. Then I would drive for some distance before he again took charge,” recalls Mr. Reddy.
“Very few had access to the vehicle. It was small and could not accommodate many people,” says Prakash Reddy of TDP about the modified green Cheverolet van with ABR 7776 registration number. But the vehicle changed the political landscape of Andhra Pradesh and spawned countless copies. Political observers said the idea about using a modified vehicle to travel around the State was given to N.T. Rama Rao by his erstwhile cinematic colleague M.G. Ramachandran. MGR successfully stormed to power in Tamil Nadu in 1977 using a similar vehicle.
Harikrishna steered the vehicle for N. Chandrababu Naidu between Tirupati and Srikalahasti. When he joined the ministry of N. Chandrababu Naidu in 1996, after winning the Hindupur Assembly seat, he took charge of Transport Ministry. An epochal move he made was to open the doors for women in the State Road Transport Corporation. Hundreds of women were hired as bus conductors.
A man who loved wheels and driving he had a soft spot for the number 2323. Most of the vehicles he owned or registered for him had the same number. Ironically, his elder son Janaki Ram died driving a vehicle AP29BD2323 in 2014, while Harikrishna died driving AP28BW2323.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Daily Report and is published from a The Hindu.)
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