In what is seen as a shot in the arm for Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy's plan for a three-city capital, the Centre categorically said in parliament today that it is the state's prerogative to decide on a capital. In response to a question from Telugu Desam Party MP Jayadev Galla, Union Minister Nityanand Rai said, "It is for each state to decide on the capital within its territory".
The TDP under YS Jagan Mohan Reddy's predecessor Chandrababu Naidu, had pitched Amaravati as the new fututistic capital of the state. Vehemently against the three-city idea, it had asked the Centre whether it was aware of Mr Reddy's plan and "would advise the state government not to resort to such decisions".
The three-city plan, the parliamentarian from Guntur had claimed in his question, would "not only vitiate the investment climate but will also be a great loss to thousands of farmers who have given their land for construction of new capital Amaravati". He had also asked how the three-city plan was "likely to help the state and its people".
In a written reply that ruled out any intervention by the Centre, Mr Rai said: "Recently media reports have appeared indicating the State Government's decision to create three capitals for the State of Andhra Pradesh. It is for each State to decide its capital within its territory.''
Amaravati was notified as the capital of Andhra Pradesh in April 2015. Recently, the state government passed a bill, repealing an Act from when Chandrababu Naidu was chief minister, detailing plans to build a futuristic capital at Amaravati.
A separate bill, the "Decentralised Governance and Inclusive Development Bill", was also passed in the state assembly that mentioned three capitals -- an executive capital at Vizag, a legislative capital at Amaravati and a judicial capital at Kurnool -- covering the three geographical regions of the state.
The bills were however not passed by the legislative council, where the ruling party is in a minority.
The council referred the matter to a select committee. But meanwhile, the state government decided to dissolve the legislative council, saying it was being used politically by the Telugu Desam Party and that it was a burden on the state's resources.
In reply to another question from Telugu Desam MP from Vijayawada Kesineni Srinivas, asking if the Central government had taken cognisance of the "mass public protests in Andhra Pradesh'' regarding a capital at Amaravati and also asked about alleged police brutality. Protests have been on for several weeks in some villages around Amaravati, opposing the shifting of the capital city to Visakhapatnam.
He also inquired if the state government had informed the Centre about it and whether the Central government planned any intervention.
Replying to these questions, Nityanand Rai clarified that law and order is a state subject and the Centre monitors and sends forces if requested for by the state. He also clarified that they got no report for the state and were not planning any intervention.