Political observers say this clarity was required to invite the investors to the state. Critics have been targetting the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government headed by Jagan Mohan Reddy over lack of clarity on the state capital.
Though it was in 2019 that Jagan Mohan Reddy had mooted the idea of three state capitals in tune with his policy for decentralisation of development, the government could not make headway in developing Visakhapatnam as administrative capital due to legal hurdles and resistance from farmers of Amaravati region.
Ahead of the investors’ summit in Visakhapatnam, the Chief Minister sent a clear message to the investors that the port city will be the state capital.
“Here I am to invite you to Visakhapatnam, which is going to be our capital, in the days to come. I myself would also be shifting over to Visakhapatnam in the months to come as well,” said Jagan Mohan Reddy, who is currently running the government from Amaravati.
He did not mention three capitals, which sparked a debate in some quarters on whether he has given up the idea of trifurcation and will have only one capital. However, ruling party leaders say to avoid any confusion, the Chief Minister did not refer to three capitals.
YSRCP leaders say the government remained committed to its policy of three capitals. Kurnool will be developed as the judicial capital while Amaravati will serve as the legislative capital. Since Visakhapatnam will be the nerve centre of the administration, Jagan Mohan Reddy spoke only about the port city.
Jagan Mohan Reddy always held the view that Visakhapatnam, with its sound infrastructure, is best suited to be the state capital. He also argued that the state lacked financial resources to develop Amaravati as the state capital as everything here has to be built from scratch.
It was on December 17, 2019 that he had announced in the state Assembly that three state capitals will be developed reversing the decision of the previous TDP government to develop Amaravati as the state capital.
This triggered massive protests from farmers of Amaravati, who had given 33,000 acres of land for the capital and the previous government had also undertaken the works on some components of the mega project.
The farmers had organised a padyatra from Amaravti to Tirupati in 2021 to mobilise public support for their demands. They had launched Maha Padyatra from Amaravati to Arasavalli on September 12 last year. It was scheduled to end at Arasavalli on November 12. However, the organisers stopped it enroute alleging that the YSRCP government is creating hurdles in their long march.
On March 3, 2022, Andhra Pradesh High Court had directed the state government to develop Amaravati as the state capital in six months. A bench of three judges had pronounced the judgment on 75 petitions filed by Amaravati farmers and others challenging the government’s move on three capitals.
However, the state government filed an appeal in the Supreme Court. In November last year, the Supreme Court stayed the High Court order saying the court cannot act like a town planner or an engineer.
The YSRCP, which dubbed protests by Amaravati farmers as politically motivated, last year organised two major public meetings in Visakhapatnam and Kunrool to mobilise support for three capitals.
Ministers, MPs, state legislators and other leaders of the party had attended the meetings to demand that Visakhapatnam and Kurnool should be developed as capitals to ensure decentralisation of growth.
With Assembly elections scheduled next year, the YSRCP leaders in north coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema have been urging the leadership to clear the uncertainty and take steps for development of Visakhapatnam and Kurnool as the state capitals.
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