Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu’s hopes of the Centre’s intervention to prevent shifting of the state capital from Amaravati were dashed with the BJP-led government making it clear that it is the prerogative of the state to decide on its capital.
The Leader of the Opposition and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) President was hoping that the Centre will put a brake to Jagan Mohan Reddy government’s move to develop three state capitals.
“It is for each state to decide its capital within its territory,” Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai said during question hour in Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
He was replying to a question by TDP MP Galla Jaydev, who wanted to know the Centre’s reaction to the state government’s move.
Jayadev also wanted to know whether the Centre would advise the state not to resort to such decisions which not only vitiate the investment climate but will also be a great loss to thousands of farmers who have given their land for construction of new capital Amaravati.
The minister merely said the state government, through its order dated April 23, 2015, had notified Amaravati as the capital city. “Recently media reports have appeared indicating the state government’s decision to create three capitals for the State of Andhra Pradesh. It is for each state to decide its capital within its territory,” he said.
The statement has come as a shot in the arm for the YSR Congress government, which has decided to develop Visakhapatnam and Kurnool as the capital cities in addition to Amaravati.
With the decision to shift administrative capital functions to Visakhapatnam, the coastal city will become the main seat of governance for all practical purpose. The high court will be shifted to Kurnool while Amaravati will merely remain as a legislative capital.
However, a day after the Centre made it stand clear, Naidu remarked that a state can choose its capital but it can’t change it. He was addressing farmers of Amaravati, whose protest over the state government’s three-capital move entered 50th day on Wednesday.
Naidu wondered why the Centre washing its hands off when the state’s move threatened to badly affect the interests of farmers who had given 33,000 acres of land for building the capital.
The TDP chief was hopeful of Centre’s intervention as Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself had laid foundation for Amaravati in 2015.
Amaravati was the brainchild of Naidu, who lost power to the YSRCP in the elections last year.
Stating that the state lacks funds to develop a “grandiose” capital like Amaravati, Jagan Mohan Reddy mooted the decentralization of capital functions to ensure what he calls equitable development of all three regions.
Last month, the state Assembly passed two Bills to create three state capitals. However, in the Legislative Council, dominated by the opposition, the Bills were referred to a select committee.
Angered over the Council Chairman’s move, the government passed a resolution in the Assembly, urging the Centre to abolish the upper House of the State Legislature.
All opposition parties including Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have opposed the shifting of the capital from Amaravati and criticized the move to abolish the Council.
Three Rajya Sabha members of the TDP, who had defected to the BJP after the general elections, and actor Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena, which last month announced an alliance with the BJP, are hopeful that the Centre would not facilitate early passing of a Bill in the Parliament for abolishing the Council.
A group of Amaravati farmers have already challenged the government’s three-capital move in the high court.