New hitch for Andhra’s capital dream

Thursday 16th January 2020 01:24 EST

Hyderabad: Soon after chief minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy announced in the state assembly last year about the possibility of three capital cities for Andhra Pradesh, local politicians cutting across party lines began raising their own demands for locating the new capital in their respective regions. The proposal has driven a wedge among politicians of all parties with functionaries divided on regional lines over the capital issue.

The Andhra government is examining the proposal of locating administrative capital in Visakhapatnam and the judicial one in Kurnool, while limiting existing capital city of Amaravati to a mere host of assembly sessions for a few days in a year. Many people, including students, have taken to streets demanding capital in their area, and supporting or opposing shifting of the capital from Amaravati. The government has deployed hundreds of troops to quell clashes, triggered by farmer protests in Amaravati.

In the last 26 days, the demand for capital city has come in from Kurnool, Chittoor, Kadapa, Anantapur, Prakasam, Nellore and Visakhapatnam districts. On the regional front, local politicians want the capital cities to be located in Rayalaseema, one in north coastal Andhra and the other in south coastal Andhra. The state had witnessed a similar demand six years ago during the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh to form Telangana. Some politicians want another bifurcation of the state to carve out what they call Greater Rayalaseema.

Politicians from Rayalaseema were the first to renew their demand for the capital city. Former legislator Byreddy Rajasekhar Reddy, who recently joined BJP, has demanded for the state capital to be in Kurnool (Rayalaseema). “The (real) capital should be in Rayalaseema. The government has given head (administrative capital) to Visakhapatnam, torso to Amaravati and tail to Rayalaseema,” he said. Rajya Sabha member TG Venkatesh wants the high court, apart from the secretariat (administrative capital), in the region. PV Sidda Reddy, YSRCP legislator from Kadiri, has demanded that Rayalaseema be given judicial as well as legislative capital cities. Former minister and TDP leader B Akhila Priya wants the capital to be shifted to Rayalaseema if the government was not in favour of Amaravati.

Former MP Chinta Mohan is in favour of Tirupati as the state capital while former minister Ganta Srinivas Rao supports shifting of capital to Visakhapatnam. Former MP and TDP leader JC Diwakar Reddy has renewed his demand for Greater Rayalaseema in case of shifting of capital from Amaravati. Assembly speaker Tammineni Sitaram supports the proposal for three capital cities, saying that it will arrest the demand for separate states. Earlier, he had described Amaravati as a desert. While the Opposition blames the serving YSRCP for the capital trouble across the state, the party blames TDP for the “political conspiracy”. “A planned political conspiracy is being executed in the state to create unrest and disturb the law and order,” a YSRCP official statement said.

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