For the last six days, farmers—who had given their lands for the construction of Amaravathi as capital city of Andhra Pradesh—from 29 villages in Vijayawada and Guntur districts are protesting after the Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy proposed a three capital cities model in the Assembly.
The farmers have set up camps at various locations in Amaravathi and have been protesting in number of ways including rallies, rasta rokos (road blockades) and public meetings – demanding the government to not go for a three capital cities model. The families of the farmers are also among those protesting.
The protests intensified after an expert committee headed by G N Rao also recommended the state government to have Visakhapatnam as the executive capital, Kurnool (in Rayalaseema region) as the legal capital and Amaravathi as legislative capital.
“The budget and winter sessions of the Assembly will be held at Amaravati and Visakhapatnam, and the Raj Bhavan and the Assembly will be located between Mangalagiri and Nagarjuna University (in the capital region area) which is not flood prone," said a press release by the AP government.
While the main Opposition, Telugu Desam Party (TDP), has condemned the government’s proposal and has been holding protests, the left parties are demanding an all party meeting on the GN Rao committee report. Addressing a public meeting in Amaravathi, TDP head Chandrababu Naidu said, “Amaravathi was made capital after due consultations among farmers and political parties. It is also the strategical centre of the state. Through land pooling scheme, farmers in the 29 villages gave 33,000 acres of land for the construction of the capital and it will do injustice to them if the capital city is changed.”
Naidu added that when Amaravathi was proposed as capital, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and his party had unanimously agreed in the Assembly. “If the government feels any corruption took place in the land pooling, it could constitute a judicial committee but why is it trying to kill Amaravathi?” questioned Naidu.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] has demanded that the G N Rao committee report must be made public and stated that capital city should not change every time a different party comes to power. Speaking to NewsClick, a state secretariat member of CPI(M), Babu Rao, said that there should be decentralisation of development but not that of capital. “The government’s proposal would create division and chaos among the people of the state. If executive and legislative institutions are at two different locations, it would create uncertainty in governance,” he said. He added that the BJP led central government has stopped funding for Amaravathi and the state government is being silent on the matter.
Notably, ever since the YSRCP government came to power in May this year, construction work at Amaravathi has been stopped and the government has scrapped numerous contracts agreed by the previous TDP government.
The protests are spread across villages in Vijayawada and Guntur districts with Tulluru, Undavalli Mandadam and Mangalagiri as centres.