Identifying New Capital May Flare Up Another Political Storm
The Andhra Pradesh state which has been facing severe political crisis since last couple of years due to agitation for bifurcation of state is now the focus shifting towards identification of capital for the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh.
As for the first time, a region from the state capital is forming into the new state by name Telangana and the existing Andhra Pradesh state is need to choose its own new capital city, identifying such a city is likely to create another major political storm.
Several leaders have urged the Government of India to name the capital city also in the Bill itself without giving scope for animosity between different regions on this issue. However, the centre remained non-committal on this issue.
Already leaders from various districts have been making efforts with varied claims. As results it is likely to generate major political conflicts in the state. With focus shifting to the new capital, the struggle ahead is set to be between Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra regions.
The Rayalaseema leaders are set to renew their demand for zeroing in on Kurnool, which was the first capital of Andhra state after it was carved out from the then Madras state in 1953. Kurnool remained the capital till November 1, 1956 when Andhra Pradesh was created. Now that the state is restored to the 1953 situation, Rayalaseema leaders are seeking restoration of Kurnool.
Even before bifurcation, several leaders from Rayalaseema region demanded that if at all bifurcation takes place, Rayalaseema should be given separate stathood. Otherwise, leaders like former minister J C Diwakar Reddy proposed a move of `Rayal Telangana’ in which two districts of Rayalaseema—Anantapur and Kurnool—would be merged with Telangana state. Though the Congress high command responded positively to this move, it was stalled with stiff opposition from the BJP. These leaders are arguing that Rayalaseema would be worst victim of bifurcation as its financial resources are meager and it has no assured water for its irrigation projects.
Already out-going minister in the N Kiran Kumar Reddy cabinet T G Venkatesh claimed that Kurnool in the Rayalaseema region should be made as the capital city. Otherwise, he threatened that he would initiative a new agitation seeking separate statehood for Rayalaseema.
However, there is even stronger lobbying from the coastal districts for location of the capital around Vijayawada. A good number of leaders favour locating the new capital between Vijayawada and Guntur, an ideal place and centrally located for the residuary state.
The campus of Acharya Nagarjuna University, which is spread over 400 acres and having abundant land behind the campus between Nambur to Tenali, is seen as suitable place for the new capital. There is also another view for location of the capital between Vijayawada and Eluru taking over 15,000 acres of forest land available in Bapulapadu, Musunuru and Nuzvid mandals. Leaders and business community from the coastal districts are in favour of having their new capital around Vijayawada.
The Andhra Chamber of Comm-erce and Industry had already sent proposals to the Group of Ministers (GoM) suggesting Vijayawada as the ideal location for the new capital.
The Andhra Pradesh chapter of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) had brought out an exhaustive note on promoting KGPG (Krishna, Godavari, Prakasam, Guntur) corridor projecting the area most suitable for the new capital and also highlighting its potential for future development.
HYDERABAD—A BONE OF CONTENTION
Hyderabad, once epicentre for Razakar movement led by Kasim Rizvi that went on killing spree and atrocities against Hindus living in Nizam state, is now the bone of contention between Telangana and Samaikya Andhra Pradesh (Unified Andhra Pradesh).
In 1769, Hyderabad city became the formal capital of the Nizams. Nizam signed a subsidiary alliance in 1799 with British and lost its control over the state’s defence and foreign affairs. Hyderabad state became a princely state among the presidencies and provinces of British India. Nizam in two instances ceded the Coastal and Rayalaseema districts of his dominion to British due to his inability to pay for the help that British rendered in his wars against Vijayanagar and Tipu Sultan armies. The ceded Coastal and Rayalaseema districts were called Sarkar and Ceded areas and were part of the British Madras Presidency until India’s Independence and part of Madras state until 1953.
In independent India, Nizam of Hyderabad did not want to merge with Indian Union and preferred to remain independent under the ‘special provisions’ given to princely states or merge with Pakistan. The erstwhile Hyderabad state comprising parts of present Maharashtra and Karnataka was annexed on September 17, 1948, after 13 months of independence, in “Operation Polo” conducted by the then Home Minister Sardar Patel.
Unlike capital cities that became shared capitals by virtue of being on the border between two states, Hyderabad becomes a shared capital despite being located within Telangana and almost 200 km away from Seemandhra borders. Thus, this does not justify the logic of sharing a capital. This leaves scope for operational difficulties. It is practically impossible for a state to have its capital at a distance of 200 km from its borders.
Hyderabad’s allocation to Telangana is based on the territoriality principle. The Seemandhra government will be given temporary shelter in Hyderabad and at the goodwill of the locals. Then why the Seemandhra people are demanding their share in Hyderabad?
In the last two and a half decades, Hyderabad city underwent dramatic changes. Most of the developmental activities have taken place in and around Hyderabad. It has become one of the best software hub in the world. Hyderabad has become the base for pharma industry.
Hyderabad became an investment destination and the people from Seemandhra have invested hugely in and around Hyderabad. If the state is bifurcated, the investors from these two regions are expected to suffere heavily. People from every nook and corner village in Rayalaseema and Andhra regions have found shelter in Hyderabad. People have invested hugely in real estate and industries in Hyderabad. Educational institutions, health facilities have tremendously increased. Atleast one member from each family is residing in Hyderabad.
Once the old Municil Corporation of Hyderabad and Secunderabad (172 sq.km) has grown into a revenue district (217 sq.km) and then became Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (626 sq.km). Subsequently it became Hyderabad Urban Development Authority (1,348 sq.km) and presently Hyderabad Municipal Development Authority (7,073 sq.km)? The whole transformation in Hyderabad took place only in past few decades when the migration from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions was at large.
The Presidential Order 1975, however, defined the “City of Hyderabad” as the MCH in its First Schedule. The Seemandhra lobby wants the centre to assume special powers in Hyderabad over law and order, land and municipal administration and higher education. But the drafted Bill only envisages law and order and government accommodation under central control.
By Balasubrahmanyam Kamarsu
Vijayawada is most centrally located city in the state with one of major railway junction in the country. In 1953, Vijayawada was considered as capital for Andhra state. But that move was altered by the then powerful Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy showing strong presence of Communists at that time around Vijayawada town. He influenced the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to make Kurnool town, close to his native Anantapur district as capital though no basic infrastructure was available.
Meanwhile, leaders from northern districts are insisting to make Visakhapatnam as the capital. As the Visakhapatnam is one of the major city in the country having large scale presence of navy, besides with several large scale industries, they are arguing it has all potential and infrastructure to develop as capital city.
Last year, Ongole town also surfaced as possible city for the state stating availability of over 25,000 acres of government land between Ongole and Kavali. This site is likely to be in the central place of both Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions.
With the presence of powerful politicians of the state like out-going Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, former Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party chief N Chadnrababu Naidu, who hails from Chittoor district and YSR Congress Party Chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy, who hails from neighboring Kadapa district, political observers feels they may bring international renown Hindu pilgrim place Tirupati as the capital of the state.
Coastal Andhra leaders are strongly opposing the move to make Kurnool or any other town from Rayalaseema as capital city. Fearing that the movement for statehood for Rayalaseema would likely get momentum after some time, in such case that would make them to go back and choose another capital city.
Andhra Intelectual Forum Convenor, Chalasani Srinivas argued: “First we were sent out from Chennai with creating of Andhra state in 1953. Now we are forced to go out from Hyderabad. Do yu want to face same misery after some time if Rayalaseema turns into another state?”
Geographically, Kurnool is one corner of the state and has little infrastructural facilities like airport and railway junction. Visakhapatnam is also will be other side of the state. Ongole is known for acute water shortage. More than geographical advantage, political mileage is likely to gain prominence, choosing a capital city also bound to turn into a political war-fare.
By Ch Narendra from Hyderabad