Andhra Pradesh could get three capitals; state tense, opposition outraged
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy wants his state to have not one, not two, but three capitals and hopes this task is completed during the three-day special Assembly session that started today. The proposal to shift the capital from Amravati has got Reddy criticism from opposition parties and farmers alike. But why is the capital being changed? Read on to know.
Talks for a new capital emerged when Reddy was awarded a historic mandate, last year, seizing power from Chandrababu Naidu. Amravati was Naidu's brainchild and his successor claimed prime plots were allocated to those close to the Telugu Desam Party chief. In 2015, 33,000 acres of land were given to develop Amravati and Reddy's Cabinet plans to scrap it. Naturally, TDP is opposing this.
The YSR Congress government wants to decentralize development, hence, is hell-bent on moving the capital. It wants to make Visakhapatnam, which has better infrastructure, the executive capital. This means the state Secretariat and the Chief Minister's office will be shifted there. Kurnool is likely to become the judicial capital with plans to shift High Court there. Amravati will be the legislative capital.
Reddy's three-capital plan has gained ire from farmers of nearly 29 villages of Amravati. In 2014, 28,000 farmers parted with their land, collectively 33,000 acres of agricultural land, for Naidu's "futuristic capital" idea. Fearing the new regime's proposal will hurt them financially, they have been protesting for nearly five weeks. They also decided against celebrating Sankranti, the biggest harvest festival in Andhra.
A "Chalo Assembly" program has been launched by the Communist Party of India and Telugu Desam Party leading to a heavy blanket of security in the capital. Large gatherings have been banned and Reddy's convoy took a different route to the Assembly to avoid protesters. In Amaravati, Vijayawada, and Guntur, several TDP leaders were taken into preventive custody.
On Sunday, Naidu asked his successor Reddy to junk the idea. Claiming the YSR Congress government was in a self-destruction mode, Naidu argued the capital shift will miff investors. "An investment of nearly Rs. 50,000 crore has been committed that has the potential to generate 50,000 jobs in the state. About 130 institutes from hospitals to education hub were to come up," he said.
Other opposition parties are also slamming Reddy for proposing such a monumental change. BJP state president Kanna Lakshminarayana promised to oppose the Bill legally. Jana Sena Chief Pawan Kalyan reminded that Reddy supported Amravati as "futuristic capital" when the latter sat in the opposition. And Left and Congress argued that capitals can't change whenever a new Chief Minister sits on the chair.
However, YSR Congress has made elaborate plans to support its Bill. The party's Ambati Rambabu and state home minister Sucharita claimed TDP was responsible for unrest in the state. The Assembly session is bound to be stormy, but Reddy wants a meaningful debate. He held a meeting with senior leaders like Uma Reddy Venkateswarlu, Pilli Subash and others to chalk out the strategy.