Uncertainty over capital city stares at Andhra Pradesh as Hyderabad set to cease to be joint capital

As Hyderabad is all set to cease to be the joint capital of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on June 2, the fate of a capital city and its geographical location for the residual Andhra Pradesh hangs in balance even 10 years after the bifurcation.
Map of Andhra Pradesh
Map of Andhra Pradesh

Amaravati | As Hyderabad is all set to cease to be the joint capital of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on June 2, the fate of a capital city and its geographical location for the residual Andhra Pradesh hangs in balance even 10 years after the bifurcation.

While matters such as apportioning of public assets worth up to Rs 1.4 lakh crore are still pending to be resolved, Andhra Pradesh's ruling YSRCP and principal opposition TDP continue to toe their respective positions of a single and multiple capital cities.

Enacted on March 1, 2014, the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 mandated that Hyderabad shall be the common capital for both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh ‘for such period not exceeding 10 years’, and accordingly, effective June 2, 2024, Hyderabad will be the capital city only for Telangana .

Though the legislation envisages a new capital and makes the 10-year deadline clear, there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel for Andhra Pradesh, considering the conflicting stances and initiatives of the two dispensations in the past ten years.

When YSRCP chief and incumbent Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy captured power in 2019, dislodging the N Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP regime (2014-19), he shattered the Amaravati capital dreams of his predecessor by coming up with the proposal to have three capital cities.

Championing decentralisation and welfare-centric governance, Reddy projected Amaravati as the legislative capital, Kurnool as judicial capital and the port city of Visakhapatnam the executive capital, from where he would function.

During the months that preceded the May 13 simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, Reddy had promised multiple times that he would relocate to Visakhapatnam but failed to keep his word, and according to the YSRCP it was owing to legal tangles. Matters related to the three capital cities proposal are pending before the Supreme Court.

Amidst this scenario, IPS officer-turned-politician, V V Lakshminarayana said Andhra Pradesh should demand the Centre to continue with the ongoing arrangement of Hyderabad as joint capital till finalisation of the capital city.

Lakshminarayana, a former CBI joint director, launched a new political party, Jai Bharat National Party last year. His party fought polls and he, a retired Additional Director General of Police, contested from Visakhapatnam North Assembly constituency.

“Only the announcement was made, foundation stone laid and some work had started on Amaravati but the full-fledged capital has not come up. But there is an opportunity, parties should be able to convince the President of India to extend Hyderabad as joint capital until a capital city comes up,” Lakshminarayana told PTI.

When he was Chief Minister, Naidu rolled out grand plans to make Amaravati the capital of the state. However, they could not take off for several reasons. YSRCP Rajya Sabha member A Ayodhya Rami Reddy reiterated his party's stand of setting up three-capitals to ensure decentralisation and good governance.

Reaffirming TDP’s commitment to Amaravati, TDP general secretary Nara Lokesh told PTI, “One state, one capital and it’s Amaravati. Decentralised development. Every district must develop, and during the TDP's regime we proved it. Kia Motors to Anantapur, electronics manufacturing at Chittoor, etc,”

Lakshminarayana held the two state governments of the past 10 years, TDP and YSRCP, as well as the BJP-led Union government responsible for the absence of a capital city. The TDP both at the time of bifurcation and even now is part of the NDA, he noted.

“A lot of meetings were convened by the Union Home Ministry regarding the assurances given by the bifurcation Act but nothing concrete has happened. Now it is the responsibility of the Central government to do the needful. That is important,” he said, reflecting on the related initiatives during the YSRCP government's five-year tenure.

The former CBI officer opined that bifurcation should not have been even taken up before the establishment of a capital city for Andhra Pradesh. Further, he underscored that the Telugu states are yet to apportion public assets worth up to Rs 1.4 lakh crore.

J Ravi Shankar, a Supreme Court lawyer who took up the legal cudgels for 'saving Amaravati' claimed that the centrally located place is the capital city of the southern state as per the Central government’s map.

“Amaravati is already there. Amaravati has been notified. Even the High Court has been notified by the President of India. And the Act says the Governor's office and other offices should be located at Amaravati, capital of Andhra Pradesh,” said Shankar. He claimed that the concept of three capitals 'is a non-existent theory', and noted that wherever the chief minister sits, that is the executive capital of a state.

Amid conflicting ideas, assertions and legal tangles, June 4, the day of counting of votes, is seen by many as a harbinger of hope for Andhra Pradesh as the party forming the next government is expected to clear the decks for the much-awaited capital city.

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