Amaravati protests against 3 capitals complete 250 days, BJP remains nonchalant
The agitation by Amaravati farmers has acquired momentum with opposition political parties joining forces.
Bharatiya Janata Party, which strongly resisted Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy government’s decision to form three capitals in the initial days, has now been keeping silent, even as all the other opposition parties have stepped up the agitation demanding that Amaravati be retained as the only capital city.
On Sunday, farmers of Amaravati took up “Rana Bheri” programme against the state government’s move to shift the executive capital to Visakhapatnam to mark the completion of 250 days of their agitation. Thousands of farmers, including men, women and children beat drums, blew trumpets and played cymbals and plates to register their protest.
All the opposition parties including the Telugu Desam Party, the Congress, CPI and CPI (M) extended their solidarity with the farmers with protest demonstrations in various villages. But the BJP leaders have stayed away from the agitation.
In fact, when the Jagan government announced the formation of three capitals in December, the BJP leaders toured Amaravati villages and took part in the agitations. Then BJP president Kanna Lakshminarayana even staged a day-long hunger strike at Uddandarayunipalem village, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone for the capital city of Amaravati on October 22, 2015.
The BJP, in coordination with Jana Sena Party headed by popular hero Pawan Kalyan, even planned to take out a massive rally from Guntur to Vijayawada in support of Amaravati farmers on February 2. But the plan was abruptly dropped.
Apparently, the Central government led by the BJP, has taken a clear stand not to interfere in the three capitals issue. During the ongoing legal battle between the Amaravati farmers’ Joint Action Committee and the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in the state high court, too, the Centre maintained a neutral stand.
On August 6, additional solicitor general submitted an affidavit in the court stating that the Centre had no role in selecting the location of capital as it was the prerogative of the state government. “In the past, the TDP notified Amaravati as the capital city. Now, the present government has chosen three capitals. The Centre has no role in it,” he said.
A similar affidavit was filed by a Union home ministry official in the high court last Wednesday. BJP national spokesman G V L Narasimha Rao, too, endorsed the same view saying the Centre had nothing to do with the capital controversy.
Newly-appointed state BJP president Somu Veerraju said as a political party, the BJP wished that Amaravati continued as the state capital. “But the Centre has already made it clear it has nothing do with the capital location,” he told Hindustan Times.
“We are sympathetic towards the agitating farmers of Amaravati and are demanding that the present YSR Congress government fulfill all promises made to them, like development of the plots allotted to them,” Veerraju said.
Asked why the BJP was not actively participating in the agitations in support of farmers as it had done in the past, the state BJP chief said his party workers were asked to extend their support to the agitation.
Senior TDP leader and former minister Nakka Anand Babu accused the BJP of adopting double standards. “It has not been consistent in its stand on Amaravati,” he alleged.
TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu has accused the Jagan government of going ahead with the three capitals plan without approval from the people of the state. “The chief minister has not accepted our challenge to dissolve the assembly and seek re-election on the plank of three capitals formation,” Naidu said, and called upon the people of all the 13 districts in the state to show total solidarity with the continuing agitation of Amaravati farmers.
Pradesh congress committee working president N Tulasi Reddy described the 250-day long agitation by Amaravati farmers as one of the longest and peaceful agitations, taken up purely on Gandhian lines.
“When he was in opposition, Jagan had extended his support to Amaravati as the capital city. Now, he cannot go back on his stand,” Reddy said.
The CPI activists staged a novel protest in Chittoor against the shifting of capital from Amaravati. The party workers blindfolded themselves and raised slogans at the Ambedkar statue.