Amaravati Capital Row: Farmers, TDP Leaders Face Police Action

The Cabinet has approved the report of a high-power committee on decentralisation of development and state capital.

3 min read
The Cabinet has approved the report of a high-power committee on decentralisation of development and state capital.

Several Opposition leaders were either detained or placed under house arrest in Andhra Pradesh as protests rocked Amaravati and surrounding districts on Monday, 20 January, ahead of a crucial Assembly session where the state government is likely to announce its final decision on the three capitals proposal.

Tension prevailed as TDP cadres and others took to the streets to demand that Amaravati be continued as the only state capital.

There was high tension at Thullur village as large number of farmers and other villagers tried to march towards the Assembly in response to the 'Chalo Assembly' protest called by the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Joint Action Committee (JAC) fighting for protection of Amaravati as the state capital.

Black Day for the State: TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu

The protesters, including women, removed police barricades to proceed towards the Assembly. The police reportedly used force to stop the protesters.

The police also detained hundreds of TDP workers and protesters trying to reach Amaravati from Vijayawada, other parts of Krishna, Guntur, Prakasam as well as other districts in the state.

TDP President and Leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu termed Monday as a black day for the state. He alleged that the chief minister was destroying the dream capital of people to settle political scores with him.

Nara Lokesh, TDP general secretary and son of Chandrababu Naidu, condemned the heavy deployment of police force, tweeting, “Why are there ten policemen in front of each house holding nets? Why is there an atmosphere of war in the capital region villages? How can they deploy so much police force, like the Pakistan border? Is it a crime for people to ask the government to live up to promises made to them?”

He also wrote that the decision to decentralise capitals was weak, which is why the YSRCP government was behaving in such a ‘totalitarian’ manner.

Several top TDP leaders were either taken into custody or placed under house arrest. Vijayawada MP Kesineni Nai, former ministers D Uma Maheswar Rao and Bandaru Satyanarayana Murthy were among the leaders placed under house arrest.

Thousands of policemen were deployed in Amaravati, Vijayawada and surrounding towns to prevent protesters from heading towards the Assembly. The Prakasam Barrage across the Krishna river, which connects Vijayawada to Amaravati, has been sealed for traffic.

Police threw a thick security cordon around the secretariat and the Assembly, and sealed several roads. Amid tight security, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy reached the secretariat, where he chaired the state Cabinet.

The Cabinet meeting has approved the report of a high-power committee on decentralisation of development and state capital, and also gave its nod for the Bills to be tabled in the three-day Assembly session.

A Bill to repeal Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) is likely to be passed by the Assembly to facilitate shifting of key capital functions from Amaravati to Visakhapatnam and Kurnool.

The YSRCP government proposes to develop Visakhapatnam as the administrative capital and Kurnool as the judicial capital while retaining the Assembly in Amaravati.

For more than a month, farmers in all 29 villages of Amaravati have been staging protests, demanding that Amaravati be retained as the only capital. The farmers had given 33,000 acres of land for development of Amaravati as the state capital in 2015.

(With inputs from IANS. This story was first published in The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)

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