The omission of Amaravati as Andhra Pradesh’s capital from India’s map released on Saturday to depict the newly created Union Territories (UTs)—Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and Ladakh— has triggered a war of words between the state’s ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) and opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
TDP spokesman Varla Ramaiah said that the omission clearly shows that chief minister Jaganmohan Reddy’s government has decided to relocate the capital city from Amaravati to some other location.
YSRCP lawmaker Alla Ramakrishna Reddy, who represents Mangalagiri constituency in Amaravati, said it was unfortunate that Andhra Pradesh has figured on the map without any capital city and blamed the previous N Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP government for it.
Amaravati as Andhra Pradesh’s capital was Naidu’s brainchild and dream project. Jaganmohan Reddy, who replaced him as chief minister in May, has said that the city’s development would not his priority. He demolished Rs 9-crore conference hall Naidu had built in Amaravati when he took office. Jaganmohan Reddy has called the land acquisition for the new capital a scam and cut funds for its development.
The Union home ministry released the map as the bifurcation of the erstwhile J&K state into the two UTs came into effect on October 31. The map mentions the capital cities of all the states except Andhra Pradesh. It depicts Hyderabad as the joint capital of Telangana as well as Andhra Pradesh.
Hyderabad was declared as the joint capital when Telangana was carved out as per the Andhra Pradesh Bifurcation Act, 2014. In December 2014, Andhra Pradesh declared Amaravati as the state capital six months after Telangana came into being in June that year.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the new capital in Amaravati on October 23, 2015, after the state assembly passed the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority Act.
Subsequently, the state secretariat, police headquarters and the high court were moved to Amaravati
The state government in September named retired bureaucrat G N Rao as the head of an expert committee to work out a strategy for urban planning and the relocation of the capital city. Last week, the committee called for suggestions from the people on the issue before November 12.
Ramaiah said that they suspect that Reddy has indicated to the Centre about his plans. “That could be the reason why Amaravati was not mentioned in the revised map,” said Ramaiah, who is also a member of TDP’s politburo.
He referred to Reddy’s meeting with Modi last month and added that the chief minister asked for liberal central assistance for various projects, but not for Amaravati’s development. “It indicates Jagan has dumped Amaravati,” Ramaiah said.
Alla Ramakrishna Reddy said that except for a few temporary structures, Naidu did not develop a single permanent structure in the capital city. “What is worse, his government had not even issued a gazette notification declaring Amaravati as the capital city,” the lawmaker said.
Andhra Pradesh minister Botsa Satyanarayana said that there has been no official gazette notification saying that Amaravati is the state capital. He added that Amaravati, which is located on the banks of river Krishna and prone to flooding, was not fit for being the state’s capital.
The TDP has maintained the gazette notification is just a technical issue. “…the Prime Minister himself laid the foundation stone for the capital. For the last five years, all the official correspondence from the centre and other states with Andhra Pradesh clearly acknowledges Amaravati as the capital,” Ramaiah said.