'Will quit politics if...': Naidu dares Jagan

One year of Amaravati agitation: Naidu dares Jagan for a referendum, says will quit politics if people vote for three capitals

Reddy who took over administration in May 2019 has altered Naidu's plan altogether

TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu. Credit: DH

TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu has challenged Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy for a public referendum on the three capitals plan for Andhra Pradesh.

On Thursday, Naidu addressed a rally “Amaravati Janabheri” organized at Rayapudi to mark the one year of protests to retain the area in Guntur district as the sole capital city of the state.

“If the people vote in favour of three capitals, then I will exit from politics permanently,” said Naidu, who made similar announcements in the past year.

The former CM has also visited the spot where the foundation of a grand capital, in partnership with Singapore firms, was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October 2015.

Reddy who took over administration in May 2019 has altered Naidu's plan altogether.

Reddy unveiled his intention to shift the executive capital from Amaravati to Visakhapatnam on 17 December 2019 while speaking in the state assembly, thereby sparking the Amaravati agitation.

Reddy alleged the TDP chief as sustaining the agitation to suit his vested interests.

“A former ruler had indulged in insider trading and amassed lands from the farmers in the name of his benamis, before the area was declared as the capital. The agitation now is to save the value of those ill-gotten lands,” Reddy said while addressing a programme on BC welfare in Vijayawada, on Thursday.

Naidu challenged the CM to prove his allegations while counterattacking that the YSRCP leaders are indulged in insider trading at Visakhapatnam.

The Amaravati protests since last year are primarily led by the local farmers of the 29 capital area villages who parted with about 33,000-acre fertile lands for the capital in 2015. They are supported by the TDP, Janasena, Left etc., parties. The state BJP also maintains “a single capital at Amaravati” as its official line.

In January 2020, the Reddy government had brought legislation enabling three capitals for the state with the executive in Visakhapatnam, legislature retained at Amaravati and the judiciary moved to Kurnool.

Besides showing a capital construction expense of over Rs one lakh crore as an unviable expense, the YSRCP government alleged large scale manipulation over the Amaravati lands prior to the capital notification to benefit the then ruling TDP leaders.

Though the legislation was notified in July, the Andhra Pradesh high court, hearing the petitions from Amaravati farmers, politicians, had issued orders barring the Reddy government’s capital shift moves.

Reddy, however, appears unperturbed. In his meeting with Amit Shah earlier this week, the CM urged the Home Minister “to issue a notification for the decentralization of administration to have the executive capital at Visakhapatnam, legislative capital at Amaravati, and judicial capital at Kurnool.”

Reddy reminded Shah that the BJP's 2019 elections manifesto had supported Kurnool as the seat of AP's judiciary.