Andhra Pradesh: Political history
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
The capital of Andhra Pradesh
Clamour from all regions
HYDERABAD: The proposal to shift Andhra Pradesh capital from Amaravati has triggered fresh demands from various districts for locating the new capital in their respective regions.
It has also brought about a wedge among politicians within all parties, with leaders divided into regional lines over the capital issue.
Since chief minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy announced in the assembly on December 17 his three capital idea — administrative capital in Vizag, judicial capital in Kurnool and existing capital city of Amaravati to host assembly sessions — local politicians cutting across party lines have come up with their own set of demands. People, including students, have also hit the streets — some for retaining Amaravati and others for shifting it to their area. The YSRCP government has had to deploy hundreds of cops to quell clashes triggered by farmer protests.
In the last 26 days, the demand for capital city has come in from Kurnool, Chittoor, Kadapa, Anantapur, Prakasam, Nellore and Visakhapatnam districts. On the regional front, local leaders want the capital city to be located in Rayalaseema, north coastal Andhra and south coastal Andhra respectively.
The state had witnessed a similar demand six years ago during the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. Some leaders want another bifurcation of the state to carve out what they call Greater Rayalaseema.
Leaders from Rayalaseema were the first to renew their demand for the capital city. Former legislator Byreddy Rajasekhar Reddy, who recently joined the BJP, has renewed his demand for the state capital in Kurnool (Rayalaseema). “The capital should be in Rayalaseema. The government has given head (administrative capital) to Visakhapatnam, torso to Amaravati and tail to Rayalaseema,” he said.
Rajya Sabha MP TG Venkatesh wants high court apart from Secretariat (administrative capital) in the region. PV Sidda Reddy, YSRCP legislator from Kadiri, has demanded that Rayalaseema should be given judicial as well as legislative capital cities. While former minister and TDP leader B Akhila Priya wants the capital to be shifted to Rayalaseema if the government was not in favour of Amaravati.
Former MP Chinta Mohan is in favour of Tirupati as the state capital while ex-minister Ganta Srinivas Rao supports shifting of capital to Visakhapatnam. Former MP and TDP leader JC Diwakar Reddy has renewed his demand for Greater Rayalaseema in case of shifting of capital from Amaravati.
Assembly speaker Tammineni Sitaram supported the proposal for three capital cities saying that it would arrest the demand for separate states. Earlier, he had described Amaravati as a desert. While the opposition blames the ruling YSRCP for the capital trouble across the state, the ruling YSRCP has blamed the TDP for the “political conspiracy”. “A planned political conspiracy is being executed in the state to create unrest and disturb law and order,” a YSRCP official statement said on Sunday.
Why the Andhra govt wants 3 capitals
Amaravati to Visakhapatnam and top leaders from the YSR Congress Party government hinting at likely shift of the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) in the near future, here is an explainer on the three capital issue of Andhra Pradesh.
What is Decentralisation Act?
The AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020 is meant to have three seats of governance, namely Legislative, Executive and Judicial Capitals.
The AP Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA) has been converted into Amaravati Metropolitan Region Development Authority consequent to the passage of the APCRDA Repeal Act, 2020.
Why three capitals?
The YSR Congress Party government wanted to decentralise the administration by having three capitals with a firm opinion that they will give a fillip to the development of the north coastal districts, the coastal stretch from West Godavari to Nellore and backward Rayalaseema.
The present government was also of the view that the grandiose capital plan of the previous government was unaffordable in the current economic scenario.
When was it decided?
Governor Biswa Bhusan Harichandan gave his assent to the relevant Bills in July, 2020. The Bills were initially passed in the Assembly in January 2020 but were then referred by the Legislative Council to a select committee, which was not formed due to the deep discord between the ruling and opposition parties. They were passed in the Legislative Assembly for the second time in June 2020.
Where are the proposed seats of authority?
The existing State Legislature Complex will remain at Velagapudi in Guntur district and the region will be called Legislative Capital. The Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) and offices of all HoDs will be shifted from Amaravati to the Executive Capital (Visakhapatnam).
The principal seat of the AP High Court situated at Nelapadu in Guntur district is to be moved to Kurnool which will be the Judicial Capital.
Controversy and legal battle
The Acts were challenged in the High Court by farmers and a few hearings were conducted under the aegis of the then Chief Justice J.K. Maheswari.
The situation had returned to square one after Chief Justice J.K. Maheswari was transferred and replaced by Arup Kumar Goswami as the cases had to be heard from scratch again.
The farmers are vehemently opposing the proposed three capitals having given their multi-crop lands under the ‘pooling scheme’ for the construction of the greenfield capital city.
A timeline, 2014- 2019
June 2: Andhra Pradesh bifurcated
Sept 4: CM Chandrababu Naidu announces location of Andhra capital in Vijayawada region
Oct 22: PM Narendra Modi lays foundation for Amaravati
Oct: Andhra administration moves out of Hyderabad to Vijayawada
March: State assembly shifts to Amaravati
May 30: Jaganmohan Reddy takes over as CM
July 18: World Bank pulls out of project
July 23: Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank stops funding
Dec 17: Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy suggests that the state may have three capitals
AP govt withdraws three-capitals bills
The Andhra government has introduced a bill in the legislative assembly to give shape to its plan of having three capitals for the state with “decentralised” development in its three regions — north coast, south coast and Rayalseema.
The move has pushed the state into fresh turmoil. Farmers who gave land for the capital are out on the streets agitating at the derailing of Amaravati as the dream capital. TOI goes behind Jaganmohan Reddy’s idea of multiple state capitals.
What is the three-capital plan?
Andhra chief minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy’s brainchild, the plan is for “equitable” development of north coastal Andhra, south coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema by splitting the ‘state capital’ into three — an administrative or executive capital at Visakhapatnam, a judicial capital in Kurnool and a legislative capital in Amaravati. This in effect means shifting the state administration out of Amaravati. As per the plan, the bulk of government offices including chief minister’s office (CMO), Raj Bhavan and the secretariat will be shifted to Visakhapatnam. The high court will be moved to Kurnool. Amaravati will serve as a mere legislative capital with the state assembly meeting there when in session.
Wasn’t Amaravati the dream capital?
A capital city has eluded the Andhras in centuries. In modern times, each time the state boundaries changed, it lost its capital city. Andhra people lost Madras to Tamil Nadu when Andhra state was carved out in 1953. They lost Kurnool in 1956 after Andhra was merged with Hyderabad state to form Andhra Pradesh. In 2014, Andhras once again lost their capital city – Hyderabad – when Andhra Pradesh was divided to create new state Telangana. Amaravati was to serve as “our own capital”. Post bifurcation, then Andhra CM N Chandrababu Naidu decided on a greenfield capital city adjacent to Vijayawada. It was named Amaravati after an ancient Buddhist village just 30 km away. Singapore government prepared its masterplan, reflecting the history, culture, traditions of the Andhra people. About 33,000 acres of land was pooled from farmers in probably India’s biggest land pooling exercise. Amaravati was to be the ‘Clean and Green’ city with only battery-vehicles.
What has been the expenditure on Amaravati?
At least Rs 5,500cr has been spent on infrastructure, buildings and amenities, Jagan Reddy has said. Completion of several buildings has been put on hold. Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP claims Rs 10,000cr has been spent. At the outset, the project had an estimated cost of Rs 33,000cr with funding coming from various sources. However, most of the funding has been withdrawn since then.
What does a shift of state capital mean?
It places a heavy financial burden on the state exchequer, which is already empty. Visakhapatnam and Kurnool are located at two ends of the state about 700 km apart. Thousands of state employees need to be relocated. The state has proposed financial sops including land at a highly subsidised rate and loan of Rs 25 lakh each. Increased travel time apart, it can be a challenge for officials to shuttle between Visakhapatnam and Kurnool and from Visakhapatnam to Amaravati when the assembly session is in progress, straining both human and financial resources. Government will need to find new buildings on rent in Visakhapatnam till it constructs its offices for the secretariat, chief minister, governor and heads of departments. This in effect means money spent on government buildings in Amaravati will go waste.
What makes this a political wrangle?
Opposition has called it a “retrograde step” that will affect investments and development of the bifurcated state. Government may justify translocation of the capital on grounds of equitable development, but Opposition calls the move a political conspiracy to “kill” Amaravati. Main opposition party TDP alleges that ruling party YSRCP does not want to credit Naidu, the chief architect behind Amaravati. Farmers see it as a breach of trust by the state. They argue they had given land for the capital in the hope it would thrive for centuries. Change of government should not warrant change in capital, they argue.
Was vaastu and/ or caste a factor behind the plan?
YSRCP and TDP have accused each other of “community” (caste) consideration on the choice of state capital. Naidu and Jagan belong to different powerful social groups that have dominated Andhra politics since 1953. Amaravati is dominated by Naidu’s community. Jagan’s community has been long opposed to Amaravati since it is in the Vijayawada-Guntur region. The differences started in 1953 itself during the search for a new capital for Andhra state after separation from Madras Presidency. The choice was between Vijayawada and Kurnool, dominated by two social groups. Four Tamil legislators, who did not have voting right, had voted in favour of Kurnool. Vaastu has also played a key role. Naidu selected Amaravati as the Krishna river is to its north. TDP has accused Jagan of following a ‘swami’s’ advice on vaastu to shift the capital.
Can the three-capital plan work?
With 95% offices shifted to Vishakhapatnam, it is a matter of time before Amaravati ceases to be ‘legislative capital’ is the writing on the wall. Government has a legislation in place nullifying the AP Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA) Act that will take away “capital” status from Amaravati. The Bill is likely to be passed in the January 20 special session of the assembly.
Andhra, not the first state with multiple capitals
Maharashtra has two capitals- Mumbai and Nagpur, which holds the winter session of the assembly
Himachal Pradesh has capitals at Shimla and Dharamshala (the winter capital)
Former state of Jammu & Kashmir had Srinagar as summer capital and Jammu as winter capital
The party with the highest seats in the Godavari belt has always formed the government in Andhra.
‘Sarpa shanti yagna’ after spate of snake bites
With two dead and 100 villagers in hospital after suffering snake bites in Diviseema of Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh, the state endowments department is making arrangements for conducting ‘sarpa shanti yagna’ (ritual to appease the snake God) at Sri Subrahmanyeswara Swamy Temple in Mopidevi on August 29.
Apart from supplying anti-venom and snake repellent chemicals and launching campaigns on how to avoid snake bites, the Krishna district authorities have decided to invoke the divine as part of ‘psychosocial care’ in fearstricken coastal Diviseema.
Speaking to TOI, Krishna district collector and magistrate B Lakshmikantham said, “Locals along with endowments department are conducting a ‘sarpa yagam’. This will boost the morale of locals”. The district collector said, “So far one died at Avanigadda and another at Gannavaram. And around 100 cases of snake bites have been reported since July. Now, with steps in place, cases are coming down.”
Assistant commissioner of endowments department and executive officer of Sri Subrahmanyeswara Swamy temple M Sharada told TOI, “At least 15 priests will conduct the government-sponsored homam. Sarpa Suktam will be recited.” The district administration deployed two snake catchers for each village and in two days, they caught six snakes. Revenue, forest and agriculture department officers were roped in. Lakshmikantham said, “We are also giving Rs 2000 to each affected family.”
Friend of Snakes Society general secretary Avinash Viswanathan said, “It’s not rational to do ‘sarpa shanti homam’. The problem can be solved by taking precautionary measures.”
Andhra Pradesh reserves 75% of private jobs for locals
First in India: Andhra Pradesh reserves 75% of private jobs for locals
VIJAYWADA: Andhra Pradesh has become the first state in the country to reserve jobs for locals in all private industrial units and factories, irrespective of whether or not these companies get financial or other help from the government.
The Andhra assembly passed the Andhra Pradesh Employment of Local Candidates in Industries/Factories Act, 2019, which reserves 75% private jobs across all categories in industrial units, factories, joint ventures as well as projects that are in public-private partnership mode.
Although many states have been making noises about reserving a big chunk of private jobs for locals, they have not implemented it as yet. Madhya Pradesh had only on July 9 stated that it would bring a law to reserve 70% of private sector jobs for locals. Immediately after coming to power in December 2018, chief minister Kamal Nath had announced an industrial policy that made it mandatory to give 70% of jobs to locals in companies availing financial and other facilities from the government. The demand has existed in Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra as well.
The new Andhra Pradesh law states that if locals with the necessary skills are not available, then the companies would have to train them in association with the state government and then hire them. Experts say that with this, companies will not be able to hide behind the excuse of not finding skilled labour.
The act also says that only those units that are listed in the first schedule of the Factories Act will be exempted from the act after the government looks into each application and takes a call. These are mostly hazardous industries like petroleum, pharmaceuticals, coal, fertilisers and cement, among others.
Companies will have to comply with these provisions within three years of the commencement of the act and will have to provide quarterly reports about local appointments to a nodal agency. Chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy had promised the reservation in the run-up to the assembly election.
"The act is both good and bad. Good because it gives an indication of the government's policy to promote local hiring in the state. But the government has to ramp up its skill development centres in the state to train locals to be ready to be hired in manufacturing and IT companies," said Vijay Naidu Galla, president and CEO of Tirupati-based Amara Raja industrial group and chairman of CII-AP.
Why TDP & Congress are ‘frenemies’ in AP, Delhi
Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s visit to TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu’s protest after the two parties decided against an alliance in the southern state underlines the curious case of political cooperation between arch-foesturned-close-partners.
From its roots in anti-Congressism, Naidu reversed gears to join hands with Congress in Telangana elections in December with the understanding of extending the partnership to AP. But the brief dalliance has ended up in divorce. Sources said Naidu was jolted by TRS’s sweep in Telangana where CM K Chandrasekhara Rao went after his “anti-statehood” image. Naidu was part of the Congress-led “mahakutumi”.
The Telangana results are learnt to have put doubts in the TDP chief’s mind about allying with Congress which bifurcated Andhra Pradesh . The popular anger against division of state wiped Congress out of existence in 2014. It remains a marginal player five years on.
If rival YSR Congress was to focus on Naidu tying up with “villain” Congress, it could hurt the TDP.It was on Naidu’s suggestion that the two parties decided against a pact for simultaneous polls to AP assembly and Lok Sabha. The Congress failure to tie up with TDP has resulted in former Union minister Kishore Chandra Deo quitting the party.
However, as far as nuances go, the TDP-Congress dalliance appears too blunt together under the flashlights in the national capital even as they stay apart in Andhra.
Jagan’s 5 Deputy CMs From 5 Major Social Groups
Jagan balances castes, gives Dalit home min
Picks Deputy CMs From Five Major Social Groups
Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy designated five newly inducted ministers as deputy chief ministers and allocated the home portfolio to a Dalit woman legislator. This is the second time a woman has become the home minister of Andhra Pradesh. Jagan’s father late YS Rajasekhara Reddy, aka YSR, had for the first time named a woman, P Sabita Indra Reddy, as home minister of united AP in 2009.
Jagan’s selection of ministers reflects serious social and caste consideration by the new CM. While he has given the home and disaster management portfolio to Mekathoti Sucharitha, a two-time MLA and wife of an IRS officer, the CM has sprung many surprises by allocating some other important ministries close to his heart to some of his deputies and other ministers.
While Jagan was sworn in as CM on May 30, his 25-member cabinet took oath of office on Saturday. Jagan had made the announcement about having five deputy CMs on Friday while addressing the legislators of YSR Congress (YSRC) at his residence.
The deputy CMs have been selected from five major social groups — SCs, STs, Backward Classes (BCs), minorities and the upper caste Kapus. This is being seen as Jagan’s gesture to reward these communities for standing by him in the Assembly election, which YSRC swept by winning 151 of 175 seats. The deputy CMs are Pamula Pushpa Sreevani (ST), Pilli Subhash Chandra Bose (BC), Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas alias Nani (Kapu), K Narayana Swamy (SC) and Amzath Basha (Muslim). Bose, who was a minister in YSR’s cabinet as well, has been given the crucial revenue portfolio, while Narayana Swamy got excise and commercial taxes.
Soon after the Assembly poll results, Jagan had held extensive consultations with senior officials and given enough indications to them that he would keep the key portfolios of health, family welfare and medical education, irrigation and municipal administration and urban development with himself. On Saturday, however, he allocated these portfolios to some of his ministers and deputies.
Telugu-English divide pits others against Jagan
Andhra Pradesh CM Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy remains resolute in his plan to shift to English-medium education in government schools in the state from the next academic year, a move that has arraigned opposition parties TDP, BJP and Jana Sena against him for “ignoring” the mother tongue, Telugu.
Last week, the YSR Congress government had issued an order for converting all Telugu- and Urdu-medium government schools into English-medium institutions. Aimed at “strengthening” schools, the new plan will kick in for Classes I to VIII from academic year 2020-21 and for Classes IX and X from 2021-22.
However, the opposition parties opposed the move. Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, too, joined TDP boss N Chandrababu Naidu and Jana Sena leader Pawan Kalyan in opposing the move.
English can help the poor get jobs, says Jagan
Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, too, joined TDP boss N Chandrababu Naidu and Jana Sena leader Pawan Kalyan in opposing the move and warned chief ministerJagan that this should not be done at the cost of Telugu.
The chief minister retorted on Monday by asking those opposing his move to “introspect”. Taking a dig at the Vice-President and the TDP chief, he said: “I would like to ask Venkaiah Naidu garu what medium of instruction is followed at schools where his children and grandchildren studied? I would also like to ask Chandrababu Naidu where his son studied and where is his grandson going to study?”
The chief minister also criticised Pawan Kalyan, who had asked him to emulate his Telangana counterpart K Chandrasekhara Rao — known for aggressively protecting and promoting Telugu. Taking a jibe at the actor-turned-politician, who is thrice married, Jagan said: “I would like to know as to where his children are studying?”
Jagan said making students employable is imperative if one is interested in eradicating poverty. He pointed out that English is a global language, which can help the poor get jobs in a competitive world. He said the state’s illiteracy rate is 33% against the national rate of 27%. “And such a situation can be tackled only by focusing on primary education,” the chief minister said.
He said studying in English-medium schools should be the right of all sections and not the preserve of the elite. He also clarified that Telugu or Urdu would be made a compulsory subject in government schools although the medium of instruction would be English.
Ironically, as opposition leader, Jagan had vehemently opposed the then TDP government’s move introducing English as medium of instruction in a few municipal schools on a pilot basis in 2017.
BJP stepped up its attack on Reddy, asking him to apologise for his “uncharitable remarks made against the Vice-President”. State president Kanna Lakshminarayana said: “There must be an option to choose. Conversion of Telugu-medium schools into English-medium means there is no choice. We will not tolerate this.” While some teachers’ associations had welcomed the move of the state government, others had demanded withdrawal of the order.
April 2020: V. Kanagaraj, appointed as the State Election Commissioner (SEC)
STATE ELECTION COMMISSIONER
Madras High Court retired judge V. Kanagaraj has been appointed as the State Election Commissioner (SEC) of Andhra Pradesh following the overnight expulsion of N. Ramesh Kumar through the ordinance route.
The government issued ordinance facilitating the appointment of a retired judge of High Court as SEC for three years and immediate removal of the incumbent Mr. Ramesh Kumar. The former SEC had postponed the local body polls citing the COVID-19 outbreak, which is said to be the reason for ordinance.
Highlights of the issue:
1.It limited the tenure of SEC to three years by making an amendment to Panchayat Raj (PR) Act, 1994 for conducting elections to PR institutions.
2.It was stated that an SEC will be entitled to re- appointment for another three years subject to a maximum aggregate period of six years.
3. The ordinance mentioned that the SEC cannot be removed except in the manner and on the grounds as a judge of the HC and the conditions of service will not be varied to his or her disadvantage.
Aparmita Prasad Singh vs State of UP (2007)
The Allahabad HC ruled that the cessation of tenure does not amount to removal, and upheld the State Election Commissioner’s term being cut short.
The judgement seems erroneous, as it gives a carte Blanche to the State government to remove an inconvenient election authority by merely changing the tenure or retirement age.
The Constitution provides Election Commission of India with the power of direction, superintendence, and control of elections to parliament, state legislatures, the office of president of India and the office of vice-president of India.
The Election Commission is an all-India body that is common to both the Central government and the State governments. It must be noted here that the commission does not deal with the elections to the Municipalities and Panchayats in the states. Hence, a separate State Election Commission is provided by the Constitution of India.
About the State Election Commissioner
Articles 243K, 243ZA: The Constitution of India vests in the State Election Commission, consisting of a State Election Commissioner, the superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of electoral rolls for, and the conduct of all elections to the Panchayats and the Municipalities. The State Election Commissioner is appointed by the Governor. Article 243(C3): The Governor, when so requested by the State Election Commission, make available to the State Election Commission such staff as may be necessary for the discharge of the functions conferred on the SEC by clause (1).
Amaravati land purchase case
As in November 2020
AP FIR that sparked unusual row
Registration of an FIR by the Andhra Pradesh anti-corruption bureau (ACB) against former advocate-general Dammalapati Srinivas, two daughters of a senior Supreme Court judge and others in an alleged land purchase scam in Amaravati led to an unprecedented spat between the executive and the judiciary. With the SC on Wednesday staying the gag order of the AP high court, the FIR registered by the ACB has now become a public document.
ACB had registered the FIR on September 15, but the court had stayed the proceedings on Srinivas’s plea and directed that the contents of the case should not be made public. The case was originally posted before the bench of Justice D Ramesh, who had recused himself. It was then posted for September 16, but the court took it up for hearing late in the night of September 15 after Srinivas moved a house motion. The government filed a petition in the SC, against the AP HC order.
ACB, which took up investigation into alleged land scam after an advocate from Ongole, Komatla Srinivasa Swamy Reddy, filed a complaint on September 7 and named Dammalapati Srinivas as the main accused.
ACB officials said that Srinivas acquired land in the core capital area or abutting the capital region between June 2014 and December 2014 for his close relatives and associates. During 2015-16, Srinivas purchased land for himself and his wife Dammalapati Nagarani. Apart from leaking the ‘official secret’ of the capital city Amaravati, the FIR also accuses him of criminal conspiracy.
The officials claimed Srinivas, who held a constitutional post, was privy to the information of the exact location of the capital had purchased land, and had benefited out of the deals by ‘abusing his official position.’ The FIR said many of these properties were purchased by the alleged beneficiaries much before the land pooling scheme began. In the preliminary inquiry it was found out that Srinivas’s father-inlaw, his brother-in-law and another relative bought properties either in the core capital area or in the surrounding areas.
ACB had filed the case for criminal breach of trust by a public servant, cheating and dishonesty) r/w 120-B of IPC against the 13 persons.