Issue :   
February 2020 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:Feb' 2020


The capital conundrum

Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao

Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy Andhra Pradesh which is till recently billed as the only State in the country without a designated capital city is suddenly going to be crowded with three capitals, thanks to the impulsive Chief Minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy and his equally unexpected statement on the likely hood of having three capitals for the state of 13 districts.
If Jagan is going to have his way, this is the first time in the independent India a state will have its Assembly, Secretariat and High Court located in three different cities. God only knows how such an arrangement is going to help either people of the state or the administration or the economy and development of the state.
Apparently, there was no prior discussion on this three capital cities proposal either in the ruling party or in the cabinet but came out of the blue of the Chief Minsiter Jagan’s mind. What surprised many was his justification of having separate administrative, Legislative and judicial capitals on the lines of South Africa without giving a thought to neither the geography nor the historical background which necessitated such a three capital arrangement.

That the South African leaders regretted that three capital arrangement as it became a financial burden on the country is well known but Jagan conveniently ignored that aspect as he is hell bent on destroying what was built by his arch rival Chandrababu Naidu.

Throughout his four year administration, Chandrababu always referred to Amaravati as his ‘baby’ and obviously Jagan does not like to nurture some ones ‘baby’. Jagan’s idea of three capitals is opposed by every other political party in the state and all of them have taken to streets.

Suddenly, Jagan and his government are on defence as the muck is sticking to the party and the leaders. Now he has to come out of the muddle in which he himself jumped and in his attempt to save himself he is further tying knots by quoting Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra examples which are no way comparable with the state of Andhra Pradesh. His other argument that the decentralisation of administration will help in the development of all the regions in the state is not a substantial model which is neither available anywhere nor workable, as per the experts.

Jagan’s idea of three capitals is opposed by every other political party in the state.

As things stand there is no justification to have more than one capital city to a financially troubled state of A.P. It was a fact that the then UPA government harmed the interests of AP though irrational and unscientific bifurcation of AP and NarendraModi government never went beyond the text of AP Reorganisation Act and was not at all liberal in assisting AP as BJP has no political stakes in the state.

The two regional parties TDP and YSRCP and their leaders Chandrababu Naidu and Jagan, instead of making a collective fight against the centre for the demands of the state, ran highly personalised politics and doing dangerously caste centric politics hitting at the very base of social harmony and damaging the economic progress of the State.

Chandrababu Naidu Chandrababu Naidu, the senior politician, could not behave in matured way while dealing with Jagan and his party when he was in power. Instead of focussing on the development in a transparent and honest way, Chandrababu Naidu lead a secretive, opaque administration largely benefitting his own community or those who are his electoral financiers.
Amaravati, the designated capital, is supposed to come up in an area of over 30,000 acres of land which was acquired through a innovative method called ‘land pooling’ unheard in the country without the outright payment of compensation to farmers who gave up their rights on the land.
There was an agreement between the farmers of those 29 villages and the specially created Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) over the sharing of the benefits on the land after the development of capital city by that Authority. Everything was working out well there in Amaravati till the 2019 election verdict where in Chandrababu Naidu was badly mauled and Jagan ascended the throne.

During Chandrababu regime Amaravati, the capital city, was making slow but study progress though the pace is not to the liking of the state. Right now there are buildings for Assembly, Council, State secretariat, High Court and are all functioning. The houses for the Ministers, Legislatures, Judges and other senior All India Officers are in different states of development.

Over all, there is about 60% completion involving almost Rs.10,000crores investments from various agencies including central government assistance of over Rs.2500 crores. Thus a Greenfieldcity which is supposedly a revenue generating urban centric developmental model with a minimum population of 30 lakh is supposed to come on the banks of River Krishna in next ten years. That vision of Chandrababu Naidu, which was hard sold to the people of AP, now lay shattered.

Prior to the change of guard in Amaravati it was bustling with construction activity and tenders for projects worth Rs. 43,000 crores were already issued. The World Bank agreed to finance, the Singapore consortium expressed their intention to involve in Amaravati as claimed by Chandrababu Naidu.

Jagan thinks of his word as final in both party and government and reportedly never tolerates counter views.

The curse of Amaravati and the people of AP is the political rivalry of Jagan and Babu. They don’t see eye to eye not even on a single issue. What one proposes is opposed by the other ignoring the merit of the proposal. They don’t see continuity of regimes in a democracy and feel as if they are crowned kings of the state. When there is no communication between the ruling and opposition the democratic functioning of the administration is the causality and that is what presently the fate of AP.

Jagan, by nature, is a politician who thinks of his word as final in both party and government and who reportedly never tolerates counter-views and is not even interested in considering a sane suggestion from seniors.

To buttress his idea Jagan is going through the motions of committees. First an official committee and then Boston Consultancy Group(BCG) which already submitted a carbon copy reports and finally ahigh power committee of Minsters ready to put their seal on 3 capital cities with Legislative Capital retained in Amaravati, Judicial capital moving to Kurnool and the executive capital shifting to the coastal city of Visakhapatnam. Jagan and his party leaders are now accused of inside trading of lands around Visakhapatnam just as Chandrababu Naidu group are accused of around Amaravati.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with former Chief Minister N.Chndrababu Naidu,
after laying the foundation for Amaravati as the new capital of Andhra Pradesh.
With political battle over now come the legal and constitutional issues regarding the creation of 3 capital cities. Can the state government bypass the centre and decide to abandon Amaravati? What happens to the capital city project at Amaravati, for which Narendra Modi personally laid the foundation? Should the capital issue be taken back to Parliament to take a call and will the Modi government accept the resolution of the AP state assembly? Can the High Court be shifted at the whim and fancy of ruling party in the state without the concurrence of Supreme Court and the Presidential order? These are all question on which the experts differ and their different opinion are more in tune with their political affiliations rather than actual constitutional position.
It is time for the Centre to intervene instead of sending mixed and confusing signals through the BJP leaders. Timely intervention has to be made and some sanity brought into the thinking of the young chief Minister. The state has been revenue deficit since 2014 and is over burdened with a debt of over 2.5 lakh crores.