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Despite Year-long Protests by Amaravati Farmers, Andhra’s Capital City Crisis Far from Over

Currently, a case is pending with the Supreme Court  relating to a stay order on ACB Investigation into Amaravati land scam
Despite Year-long Protests by Amaravati Farmers, Andhra’s Capital City Crisis Far from Over

Hyderabad: Commemorating one year of their continued protests against the state government’s ‘three capitals model’, farmers led by Amaravati Parirakshana Joint Action Committee organised a massive public meeting ‘Jaya Bheri’ in Rayapudi village of Amaravati region in Andhra Pradesh on December 17. Observers suggest that as the Amaravati capital is mired in numerous challenges including legal aspects, the crisis around Andhra Pradesh’s capital is far from over. 

Since December last year, thousands of farmers and their family members from 29 villages in Vijayawada and Guntur districts have been holding a series of protests after Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy announced the state government’s plans to go for a three capital cities model for the state instead of one capital at Amaravati. The farmers had given away over 33,000 acres of agricultural lands through ‘land pooling system’ under the previous Telugu Desam Party regime for construction of Amaravati.

Opposition parties including TDP, Congress and Left parties – Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist) have been supporting the farmers’ protests. 

“The YSRCP government is trying to shift the capital for political reasons. My family had only one acre of land which we gave for the construction of Amaravati. But the ruling party cadre are now threatening protesting farmers mainly from dalit communities saying that they will not get benefits of government schemes if they participate in protests,” said Suvarna Kamala, a dalit woman farmer from Amaravati. She added that hundreds of dalits and OBCs have reportedly been booked in numerous “false” cases for joining protests. 

bheri

On the other side, under the banner of ‘Bahujana Parirakshana Samithi’, another set of farmers mainly from vulnerable sections from Amaravati are staging protest demonstrations for the last 78 days demanding the implementation of the ‘three capital model’ and distribution of housing plots for poorer sections including SCs, STs and OBCs in Amaravati.

Also read: Amid Amaravati Farmers’ Protest and Legal Battle, Andhra Governor Gives Consent to 3 Capitals

Political analyst Telakapalli Ravi opined that the state government is not attempting to resolve the unrest in Amaravati. “But it has promised 50,000 houses for dalits and bahujans in Amaravati and has been encouraging counter-protests while repressing pro-Amaravati protests,” he said. 

Addressing the Jaya Bheri, former CM and TDP head N Chandrababu Naidu questioned CM Jagan on why his government has failed to prove ‘insider trading’ allegations against the TDP regime in spite of being in power for the last 19 months. 

Meanwhile, CPI(M) stayed away from joining the Jaya Bheri, refusing to share stage with the right wing Bharatiya Janata Party. “The ongoing countrywide farmers’ protest has been suppressed and falsely projected by the BJP led central government. In the case of Amaravati, the saffron party is playing double standards by supporting farmers in the state and YSRCP at the Centre. It is sad that the JAC invited BJP to the meeting. Hence we will not participate in it,” said P Madhu, CPI(M) state secretary to JAC convenor Shiva Reddy. He added that the Left party believes that Amaravati should continue as the capital and promised the party’s support to the JAC’s protests. 

In July, the Andhra government gave its assent to two bills -- the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill, 2020, and the AP Capital Region Development Authority (Repeal) Bill, 2020 -- according to which, the state will have Amaravati as the legislative capital, Visakhapatnam as the executive capital and Kurnool as the legal capital. 

Currently, Andhra Pradesh High Court is hearing petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the two bills. 

Further, on November 25, the Supreme Court vacated a gag order passed by the High Court related to investigation by Anti-Corruption Bureau in Amaravati land corruption case involving a former Advocate General of the state, relatives of a sitting judge of the Supreme Court, several deputy collectors and tehsildars. The apex court is continuing hearings on the stay order on the investigation based on the findings of a state government led committee that alleged “insider trading” related to buying and selling of land parcels in Amaravati before it was announced as capital.

“BJP is the main reason behind the prolonged crisis around Amaravati,” Telakapalli Ravi said.

“The central government has stated to the courts that it has no role with respect to the change of capital city. Whereas, the BJP in the state is opposing the three capitals. The YSRCP government couldn’t have taken such a big step to change if Modi had opposed it. So, the governments can do justice to Amaravati only if concerns from all sections of people involved are taken and resolved democratically,” he said. 

Also read: Amaravati Farmers’ Protest Against Capital Relocation Enters 24th day

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