On 18 December 2019, Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy proposed that the present de facto capital Amaravati would be made Legislative Capital, Visakhapatnam would be made the Executive Capital and Kurnool would be made the Judicial Capital.
The YSRCP Government and its leader Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy just picked up the concept of decentralization of administration mentioned in the Sivaramkrishna committee report and ignored other recommendations made by the committee and tried to justify to people that decentralization of administration would lead to overall development of the State. At this particular juncture, the YSRCP Government failed to account for the financial burden and logistical inconvenience the people will face in the coming months because of Jagan Mohan Reddy’s plan.
At a time when the State of Andhra Pradesh is facing budget deficit and lack of resources coupled with lack of adequate support from the Centre, the State is fighting hard to build one capital, questions are being raised as to how the Chief Minister claims to build three capitals.
As an opposition leader Jagan Mohan Reddy and his party had consented for Amaravati as Andhra’s capital. For the next four years, Jagan Mohan Reddy had maintained ambiguity of stance on Amaravati as a capital and adopted cautious silence. The move was seen as an all-pleasing tactic that did not hurt the traditional base of YSRCP in Rayalaseema and gave Jagan Mohan Reddy enough room to persuade the voters in Krishna-Godavari belt. Closer to the election, in February 2019, Jagan Mohan Reddy did house warming at Tadepalli only to demonstrate his commitment towards Amaravati.
Jagan Mohan Reddy as the Chief Minister had been tactical by citing expert committee reports to second his political decisions. While he has quoted the Sivaramakrishnan committee on decentralization to second his decision for three capitals, he further went on to rope in the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to make the standard recommendations. However, the opposition and various news agencies have cried foul pointing fingers at BCG Director Bhattacharya who is a close aide to Viajy Sai Reddy’s son-in-law Rohit Reddy. While the TDP has alleged BCG to be favouring the YSRCP, the ruling party has widely used the BCG report to second its decision in the popular narrative.
After 150 days of relentless protests by the protestors in Amaravati, the YSRCP has responded by calling these protestors as paid artists. The TDP has tried rebuilding its ground playing by the side of the protesters. The High Court of Andhra Pradesh has taken suo-moto cognizance of violations during the capital protests and has been critical of police high handedness, especially for ill-treating women protestors.
All through, even for the hour-long session wherein Jagan Mohan Reddy announced the three capitals decision, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and his party leaders didn’t feel it necessary to reflect on their previous stance on Amaravati. Even worse, the CM has not addressed the protestors, directly or indirectly even once in the last six months. While Jagan Mohan Reddy’s tactical silence and deliberate ignorance of issues has undoubtedly helped him save his face in the past, the technique has reached its expiry date.