Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief and Opposition leader in Andhra Pradesh N. Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday began his new year with a protest, when he visited Amaravati to meet farmers who had given up their land for the proposed state capital.
The farmers have been agitating against the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP)-led state government since it announced its intent to decentralize the capital between Amaravati, Visakhapatnam, and Kurnool.
The former chief minister on Wednesday met farmers who have formed the Amaravati Parirakshana Samithi to take on the state government. He started the day with a visit to the Durga Malleswara Swamy temple in Mangalagiri in Amaravati.
Then he proceeded to Yerrabalem, Krishnayapalem, and Mandadam villages, where he held public meetings.
Naidu attacked Andhra Pradesh chief minister and YSRCP president Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, saying that farmers in Amaravati were apprehensive about their future. “Every one of us must work to highlight @ysjagan’s divide-and-rule politics against people and shed light on the miserable situation unfolding in Amaravati & the State," Naidu wrote on Twitter.
The TDP will take up the issue to build more pressure on the state government, said a party leader from Andhra Pradesh who did not want to be named. The TDP leader said the state needs a central capital for its development.
The controversy surrounding Andhra Pradesh’s new capital has taken centre stage after the G.N. Rao expert committee, which was appointed to look into the state’s development, recommended that the capital be decentralized between Amaravati, Visakhapatnam and Kurnool in the Rayalaseema region.
The Andhra Pradesh government in December 2019 set up a high-powered committee to examine the recommendations of the G.N. Rao-led panel, after the state cabinet, led by the chief minister, deferred taking a decision on the relocation of the capital with farmers in Amaravati up in arms against the decentralization move.
The expert committee had said 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.
Farmers in Amaravati have been up in arms primarily because Naidu’s government had pooled in 33,000 acres of farm land from hundreds of them to develop Amaravati.
Ever since the Reddy-led YSRCP came to power last May, Amaravati has suffered one setback after another. From the World Bank withdrawing its funding to the startup area project being terminated, Reddy has majorly undone Naidu’s pet project of building the Amaravati capital city.
“Jagan should explain how he is going to decentralize the capital. As it is, Visakhapatnam is a developed city, and it has an airport for connectivity. Moreover, the Supreme Court should also agree to shifting the high court to Kurnool. More importantly, if an important place like the secretariat is to function out of Visakhapatnam, then it will be extremely difficult for people living in the Rayalaseema region (under which Kurnool, Anantapur, Chittoor and Cudapah districts come) to reach there. The distance by road takes 17 hours from Kurnool to Visakhapatnam," said the TDP leader.
AP deputy chief minister Pushpa Srivani criticized Naidu’s visit to Amaravati. Calling it a “political drama", she he alleged that the former chief minister was trying to “hide irregularities" committed in Amaravati during his term. “The expert committee’s recommendations were (given) to decentralize the development, which is why three cities were proposed (for the government to work out of)," said a press release quoting her on the matter on Wednesday.