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NTR magic intact

Hyderabad, Aug. 29: Late .T. Rama Raoís mass appeal survives in his belongings, as was evident yesterday when his official car was picked up for Rs 2.5 lakh.

Used by the founder of the Telugu Desam Party for almost seven years as chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, the Ambassador (AP9-9999) was bought by Gurudev Singh, a garage owner in Hyderabad.

It was among nearly 3,000 cars as old as 15 years that were recently put up for summary auction by the government.

The auction, however, was postponed on Wednesday when many enthusiasts kept bidding lower than the minimum cut-off price of Rs 40,000. It finally went for a fresh bid yesterday.

The Ambassador, with a Chevrolet engine and internal electrical fittings and upholstery from the popular imported Ford car, was modified to suit the late leaderís physical stature in 1983 for Rs 12 lakh. It had carried him on many of his political campaigns while in office.

Singh is a collector of vehicles with numbers ranging from 9 to 9999, including two-wheelers, three-wheelers, Ambassadors and Fiats. NTRís car will find pride of place at the display at his spacious garage in Abids, the cityís central business district.

Many of the late leaderís other belongings ó including film costumes right from the days of his popular mythologicals, wigs, travel tickets and jewellery ó are languishing in a private museum opposite his house on Banjara Hills.

The museum, the construction of which was started by NTR when chief minister, has been under lock and key for almost 10 years following a legal dispute over its possession between his widow Lakshmiparvati and one of his sons, actor Harikrishna.

The inauguration was stalled after NTR, chief minister from 1983-89 and January-September, 1995, died early in 1996.

Police report that many items have already been taken away from the museum by family members during the Desam regime of NTRís son-in-law, . Chandrababu Naidu.

Lakshmiparvati, NTRís second wife, had lost all cases against her husbandís family to get possession of his properties but managed to get a stay on the museum.

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