Five reasons why Jagan Reddy scuttled Amaravati as Andhra Pradesh’s capital
It is now official that the much-discussed capital city dream project of former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu lies in tatters.Updated: Jan 20, 2020 18:22 IST
With YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led Andhra Pradesh cabinet finally approving the scrapping of the Amaravati Capital Region Development Authority Act 2014, it is now official that the much-discussed capital city dream project of former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu lies in tatters. Here are five key reasons why the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government decided to take this step.
Chip away at the financial support base of TDP
It is no secret that after the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) came to power in 2014 in the newly-truncated Andhra Pradesh and before Amaravati was chosen as the location of the next capital, there were a large number of land deals. YSRCP has repeatedly claimed that TDP leaders and the rich Kamma community from which Naidu hails took advantage and bought large parcels of land as they knew Amaravati would be chosen at throwaway prices. Kammas, by and large, have supported TDP. Though they are just 5-6% of the population, they historically have been a keen mercantile community and have big financial muscle. YSRCP believes that one way of breaking TDP’s back is by ensuring that the capital project in which Naidu invested thousands of crores does not benefit the opposition party’s supporters.
Diversify the centre of political gravity
The YSRCP government claims the diversion of the focus from Amaravati is to ensure more equitable growth for different parts of the state. This is why it is saying that while Amaravati will be the legislative capital, Visakhapatnam or Vizag will be the executive capital with the bulk of the judiciary being based in Kurnool. This way, coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema and central Andhra will get equal attention.
Break traditional TDP strongholds
By ensuring that the government machinery operates out of Vizag, YSRCP hopes to break into a TDP stronghold. For instance, even in a wave election like the last assembly polls in which YSRCP won 151 of the 175 assembly seats, in Vizag, TDP won 4 of the 7 assembly seats. But with this move, YSRCP hopes to lure traditional TDP voters into its fold. Traditionally, Vizag with neighbouring Srikakulam district, has been more cosmopolitan and shares a border with Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
Diversifies gains to people beyond TDP
The new YSRCP government has cancelled numerous lucrative infrastructure building contracts that it claims was awarded illegally to people close to the TDP in Amaravati. It has either scrapped or gone in for fresh re-tendering of almost all major projects even as some of the earlier companies have approached courts. By ensuring the shift away from Amaravati, a lot of spending will also be shifted to other parts of the state to ensure that the people and firms which gained in the previous regime do not derive any benefit after the change.
Amaravati had become too identified with Naidu
The other unstated grouse is that because of Chandrababu Naidu’s constant championing of the new capital, the project was identified with him to a large extent. Even if it had succeeded, the credit would have gone to Naidu and TDP. The former CM keeps repeatedly claiming that he was the one who made Hyderabad what it is today when he was the chief minister of united Andhra. Jagan doesn’t want that to happen. The move will ensure that the political centre is not solely on Amaravati.