The agitation by Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu and other stakeholders in Amaravati, in Andhra Pradesh, against the intended decentralisation of the state's capital is set to intensify, as Naidu and others will campaign against the ruling YSR Congress Party across AP in the coming days.
“We are going to intensify the agitation, and moreover the Amaravati Parirakshana Samithi (joint action committee) will also continue its protests in the capital city area. While the state government has formally not announced that it will decentralise the capital, we have to see what it does. The YSRCP is currently on the back foot," said a senior TDP leader, who did not want to be named.
Moreover, the protests have also been constant since last month, especially in the Amaravati area by farmers, who have been agitating ever since the state government announced its intention to decentralise AP’s capital between Amaravati, Visakhapatna, and Kurnool.
It has also led to section 144 (which disallows the assembly of four or more persons) being more or less enforced regularly in all of the 29 villages under the capital city area. Last week, it was reported in local media that the AP police roughed up women protestors amid the police detaining others. The issue has also come to the notice of the National Commission for Women (NCW), which has sent a team to look into complaints.
On Sunday, a team sent by the National Women’s Commission was also in the state to look into complaints of police excesses against women protestors.
NCW Rekha Sharma on Sunday tweeted, “Talked to Dr. Ravi IPS ADG Law and Order - Andhrapradesh in detail to know the situation. He assured me all kind of help to women. Will wait for he report from my team and take the next step." The team in currently in Andhra Pradesh to find out whether the police indulged in any excesses while dealing with women protestors.
The whole issue over Amaravati’s future has come under question ever since the state government-appointed Expert committee recommended last month to decentralise the capital by relocating the secretariat in Visakhapatnam (in north coastal Andhra), High Court in Kurnool (in the Rayalaseema area) and to have to the governor’s office and state assembly in Amaravati.
Naidu, in a bid to show his dedication to Amaravati, which was originally planned to be developed as a global city, will also spend the Sankranti holidays (15 Jan) in the capital city area instead of going to Tirupati (which has been his tradition from nearly a decade) for blessings, said the TDP leader leader quoted above. The TDP chief was in Machlipatnam last week as part of the campaign and will also travel to other areas in the coming days.
It was followed by the state government setting-up a “high-power committee" to examine the recommendations of the Expert committee, after protests broke out against the decision.The recommendations, if implemented, will undo everything that Naidu had planned for Amaravati, which was to be developed as a global city.
Farmers in the Amaravati capital city region have been up in arms mainly because Naidu’s (previous AP) government had pooled in 33,000 acres of farm land from hundreds of them to develop Amaravati. They are opposed to the decentralisation as they gave up their farm lands and were promised lands in the capital post its development (apart from a monthly income of Rs2,500 per acre, that they receive as compensation since they are not farming).
The YSRCP has however denied that any women were beaten or roughed up, and has claimed that Naidu “and his henchmen" are provoking farmers in the capital city area. “A planned political conspiracy is trying to be executed in the state to create unrest across the state and (to) disturb the law and order," said a statement from the ruling party on Sunday.