The Andhra Pradesh government on July 18 has sent the AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill, 2020 for setting up three capitals in the state, to Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan for his assent. Following this, the opposition parties, which have been stringently opposing the three capital model, have urged the governor to reject the bill terming it as ‘unconstitutional’. The governor’s office has sought legal opinion on the bill.
The AP Capital Region Development Authority (Repeal) Bill, 2020, which intends to repeal the authority set up by the previous Telugu Desam Party government to oversee the construction of Amaravati as capital has also been sent to the governor.
Reportedly, the governor has sought legal advice on the bills and is also considering referring the contentious bills to the President.
In December last year, the YSRCP government proposed its plans to go for a ‘three capital cities’ model for the state -- Amaravati as the legislative capital, Visakhapatnam as the executive capital and Kurnool as the legal capital. This evoked massive opposition from thousands of farmers in the Guntur-Vijayawada region who gave their lands for the capital construction at Amaravati; they have been protesting against the move for more than 200 days now. Even during the lockdown restrictions for the containment of the coronavirus pandemic, their dissent has been alive.
While the ruling party, in January, passed the two bills in the state Assembly with its strength (151 MLAs of total 175), they got stalled in the legislative council (where TDP is in majority) which referred the bills to separate select committees. Following this, in a surprising move, the state Assembly passed a resolution abolishing the council and sent it to the parliament for approval.
Again in June, during the Budget session, the ruling party reintroduced the two bills, passed them, and sent them again to the council, which neither rejected the bills nor sent them to select committees. As one month has elapsed after the bills were stalled in the council, claiming that they are deemed to be passed, the government sent them to the Governor for his assent.
TDP head N Chandrababu Naidu and BJP Andhra Pradesh president Kanna Lakshmi Narayana, in separate letters, have appealed to the Governor to reject the bills citing the referral of the bills to select committees by the council when the first time they were tabled in January.
Left parties have been supporting the Amaravati farmers’ protests while opposing the three capitals model on various grounds. The previous TDP government has acquired over 33,000 acres of land from over 25,000 farmers in Amaravati.
“Although it is being touted as a three capitals cities model, in reality, it is shifting the capital to Visakhapatnam,” said State CPI(M) secretariat member Babu Rao, “as the Assembly and the High Court will be located in Amaravati and Kurnool respectively, and the whole administration will run from the executive capital.”
Meanwhile, YSRCP general secretary and Rajya Sabha member, V Vijayasai Reddy, indicated that the executive capital in Visakhapatnam will be a reality in the next six months.
Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy in May has said that Visakhapatnam is the only place in the state that has the potential to compete with tier-1 cities (metro cities) while announcing several projects planning to be started in the city.
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