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HindustanTimes Thu,25 Dec 2014

Vijayawada or Kurnool? Dispute over Andhra capital hots up

Prasad Nichenametla, Hindustan Times  Hyderabad, August 18, 2014
First Published: 01:17 IST(18/8/2014) | Last Updated: 01:23 IST(18/8/2014)

Andhra Pradesh chief minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu's resolution to make Vijayawada the ad hoc centre of his government has exposed the regional divide within the state.

Rayalaseema leaders - including some from his party - are miffed with the city in coastal Andhra picked for the purpose, in effect making the area the final choice for the new capital.

The decision comes even as the Sivaramakrishnan committee, formed to find a new capital, is to submit its report in a few days. Analysts say the move is a bid to pre-empt strong suggestions in favour of any other place.

A massive rally was taken out in Rayalaseema last week in favour of choosing Kurnool - the capital of Andhra state before 1956 - as the new capital.

The region's leaders are lobbying hard but to no avail. "We tried to convince Naidu but he is not in favour of making Kurnool the capital," a senior TDP minister from Rayalaseema told HT.

Andhra Pradesh Congress committee chief Raghuveera Reddy, who hails from Rayalaseema, pointed the Vijayawada decision as involving "a secret agenda to benefit the individuals who funded the TDP's election campaign."

"Any decision on the capital should be taken based on the committee report and in consultation with all parties. Not unilaterally," Reddy said.

Though Vijayawada has its advantages, some people allege that the choice may have also been influenced by the caste factor. Krishna-Guntur districts are a bastion of the Kamma caste (to which Naidu belongs) while Rayalaseema is dominated by Reddys.

Naidu himself has on few occasions indicated Vijayawada-Guntur (towns separated by 35 kms) region as his choice for the brand-new capital expected to come up in 3 to 5 years.

A committee on the capital formed by Naidu was also criticised for heavy representation of industrialists from coastal Andhra, including two TDP MPs Jayadev Galla and Y S Chowdary. and leaving out Rayalaseema. 

Meanwhile, the Vijayawada shift is worrying several Seemandhra employees, many of whom are settled in Hyderabad, as it would require them to move there immediately. "A split arrangement with some offices here and some there would not work and would only trouble people more," said an official.


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