- Jagan Reddy government wants to drop rival Chandrababu Naidu's plan
- Farmers from over 29 villages have been protesting against new proposal
- Large gatherings have been banned and heavy security has been deployed
A three-day special session of Andhra Pradesh assembly began this morning amid tight security where the YSR Congress government is likely to shelve the master plan for a futuristic capital at Amaravati amid massive protests against the proposal. The assembly session began at 11 am after the YS Jaganmohan Reddy cabinet met this morning.
In a meeting this morning, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy cabinet approved four bills to be placed in the house ahead of the special session. The bills are: Decentralisation of state development, repealing of the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) Act, benefits related to farmers in Amaravati and converting all government schools into English medium.
Large gatherings are banned in parts of the state capital and heavy security has been deployed on the roads leading to the secretariat and the state assembly. On Sunday, the Communist Party of India and Telugu Desam Party called for ''Chalo Assembly (Let's march to assembly)'' protest today against the state government.
A three-ring security cordon will be on the routes that Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy takes to prevent traffic disruption.
Protests have been going on in 29 villages of Amaravati and other parts of the state for nearly five weeks by farmers who are opposing the state government's proposal to shift the state capital from Amaravati.
The state government has proposed to set up Amaravati as the legislative capital, Visakhapatnam as the executive capital and Kurnool as the judicial capital of Andhra Pradesh. Expert committees headed by former IAS officer GN Rao and Boston consulting Group have presented reports to the Chief Minister that seem to support and advocate the idea.
Today, as the three-day special session begins, the assembly is scheduled to begin to approve the report of the High-Powered Committee (HPC) on "distributed capital functions".
In 2014, 28,000 farmers had given up nearly 33,000 acres of agricultural land for the 'futuristic capital' proposed by then chief minister Chandrababu Naidu. The protesting farmers fear they will suffer financial setback if the capital is moved from Amaravati.
Several opposition parties - the Telugu Desam, the BJP, Jana Sena, Communist Party Of India - have backed the farmer protests. Pawan Kalyan's Jana Sena and the BJP, who announced an alliance for 2024 state elections last week, have said that Jaganmohan Reddy cannot take unilateral decision on shifting the capital.
Last week, the Andhra Pradesh High Court had sought a response from the state government on a clutch of petitions accusing the police of high-handedness during protests. It had also questioned the deployment of heavy security in various parts of the state capital.
Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy has said the government cannot spend Rs 1 lakh crore to build a grand capital at Amaravati. He has also alleged insider trading in real estate by those allegedly close to former chief minister and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu.
YSR Congress leader Ambati Rambabu and state home minister Sucharita have also accused the TDP chief and his party of spreading unrest in the state for his "political survival", claiming that he wants to protect lands of a particular community.
On Sunday, Chandrababu Naidu dismissed the claims and said there is "no logic" in having three capitals and called the government's proposed plan just a "witch hunt" against the TDP.
"Does it makes sense to shift the capital when the construction is almost at an advanced stage? An investment of nearly Rs 50,000 crore has been committed that has potential to generate 50,000 jobs in the state. About 130 institutes from hospitals to education hub were to come up. All this will not happen if the capital is shifted," Mr Naidu told news agency PTI.
Earlier today, Mr Naidu condemned the house arrest of his party leaders and former MLAs ahead of the special session. "House arrest of party leaders and Amaravati JAC leaders is condemnable. Suppression of public voice is undemocratic and against the Constitution. Even during the Emergency, it was much better," Mr Naidu said in a statement.