A YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) legislator from Andhra Pradesh (AP) has written a letter to President Ramnath Kovind, requesting him to declare the state’s proposed capital--Amravati--as “unconstitutional and illegal". In his letter, Dharmana Prasada Rao, the lawmaker representing the Srikakulam constituency, said Amaravati was “not notified by any official gazette or by any Government Order" as the state capital.
Rao, a state cabinet minister during the time of chief minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, also alleged that after the state’s bifurcation into Telangana in 2014 the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government had declared Amaravati as the new capital without considering the recommendations of the Siva Ramakrishnan committee. The Ramakrishnan committee was formed by the Centre to study alternatives for the new capital.
“The then Government of Andhra Pradesh declared Amaravathi as new capital without considering the recommendations of the report by the expert committee. The said report was neither discussed in the cabinet meeting or in the Legislative Assembly/Council," said Rao in his letter to Kovind, adding that declaring Amaravati as AP’s capital is “un-constitutional as it violated the fundamental constitutional principle of justice" and equality of opportunity enshrined in our Constitution".
The letter to the president comes at a time when the issue of the capital city has become a bone of contention between political parties. The ruling YSRCP government, led by chief minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, has announced its intention to decentralize the capital between Amaravati, Visakhapatnam and Kurnool. The state government had appointed an expert committee led by retired IAS officer G. N. Rao to look into the matter, along with the state’s overall development.
The controversy surrounding the state’s new capital took centre stage after the expert committee, in December, recommended that Visakhapatnam should be made the executive capital, Kurnool in the Rayalaseema region the legal capital with the high court located there, and Amaravati the legislative capital with the governor’s office and the Assembly.
Following that, the Andhra Pradesh government also set up a “high-power committee" to examine the recommendations of the G.N. Rao-led panel after the state cabinet deferred taking a decision on the relocation of the capital as farmers in Amaravati have vehemently opposed the decentralization. The recommendations, if implemented, will completely turn around what TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu had planned for Amaravati.
During his term (2014-19), Naidu had planned a start-up hub, and three grand structures for the secretariat, assembly and a high court in Amaravati. The 1,700-acre start-up hub in Amaravati, among other projects, was recently scrapped by the YSR Congress Party government.
Farmers in Amaravati have opposed the idea primarily because the previous government had pooled in 33,000 acres of farm land to develop Amaravati.
In his letter, Rao also pointed out that Amaravati is “illegal" as it violated the provisions of the AP Reorganization Act 2014 and that its formation did not follow the recommendations of the expert committee. “It is unfortunate that constitutional functions are not conducted from “Common Capital Hyderabad (it was decided that Hyderabad would function as common capital for AP and Telangana till 2024) and are run from a place which do not have legal sanctity," he added.
The YSRCP MLA ended his letter asking Kovind to “make necessary changes in the Map of India published by the Survey of India".