Lakshmana Venkat Kuchi, Senior Journalist
Interesting political battle fuelled by real estate concerns – or rather to impact the real estate owned by people close to former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu in and around Vijayawada – erupted once again in Andhra Pradesh as Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy has revived his three-capital plan – designed to dilute the importance, and monetary value of lands in the capital city of Amaravati.
The plan to develop three capitals for the state, certain to take away the sheen from Amaravati – where lands were alleged to have been bought up by people close to the former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and impact the super windfall profits the lands are to fetch as property prices hit through the roof once the decision to make Amaravati the capital was made public.
Once Jaganmohan Reddy assumed power from Telugu Desam Party, he hit his adversary where it hurt him the most – Amaravati, through his move to dilute its importance by developing two more ‘capital cities – Vishakhapatnam (executive capital) and Kurnool (the seat of the High Court) – but the move was challenged in courts that nixed it.
But a determined Jaganmohan Reddy has revived his plan of three capitals, and his ministers aver that he is hellbent on making Vishakhapatnam the executive capital of Andhra Pradesh and Kurnool the seat of Judiciary. Speaking on a short duration discussion on decentralised development – announcing the three-capital plan on Thursday on the opening day of the Monsoon Session, Jagamohan Reddy launched into a blistering attack against his predecessor charging that he was bent upon Amaravati solely due to real estate reasons. He described Naidu and his men as real estate mafia and alleged that Naidu owns huge tracts of land through benami transactions.
“I am not against Amaravati. I want the other regions also to develop equally,” Reddy said. The Chief Minister had, after wresting power from Naidu, unveiled plan to develop three capitals – Amaravati, Vishakhapatnam, and Kurnool. Incidentally, Andhra Pradesh, lost Hyderabad it developed to Telangana during bifurcation. Hence, the Chief Minister also though it better not to put all eggs in one basket.
But his earlier plan was challenged in courts, that nixed it last year. Jaganmohan Reddy had to withdraw the AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020 in November last year. But soon after, he vowed to bring a “comprehensive, complete and better Decentralisation Bill.”
He came good on the promise today, by announcing the plan in a lengthy presentation on the proposed 3-capitals plan and described it as a decentralised development project. What he stands for, he said, was for a comprehensive decentralised development of all the three regions of the state – Rayalaseema, Coastal Andhra and North Andhra.
Incidentally, the farming community of Amaravati, too started a padayatra to Amaravati in protest against the possibility of revival of the old 3-Capital plan. The former Chief Minister and Telegu Desam Supremo Chandrababu Naidu is also said to be backing the farmers stir.
(Lakshmana Venkat Kuchi is a senior journalist tracking social, economic, and political issues and takes a keen interest in sports as well. He has worked with prominent news organisations.)