As the Amaravati protests entered the 29th day on January 15, Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu and his family members visited the protesters and extended solidarity yet again. Protests have continued through the three-day festival of Sankranti widely celebrated in Andhra Pradesh, with Naidu joining protesters in burning copies of the G N Rao committee report and Boston Consulting Group report in the Bhogi fire on Tuesday. The reports had backed the YSRCP government’s three-capital move in the interest of ‘decentralised development’.
Speaking at the protest site in Amaravati, Naidu challenged Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy to hold a referendum on the much contested issue of the state capital. “If he (Jagan) had courage, he would have mentioned this proposal before the elections. If he cancels the Assembly and contests elections again and wins, I will retire from my political career permanently. If he is afraid of doing that, he should at least hold a referendum on the capital issue and do what people ask, instead of taking one-sided decisions,” Naidu said.
Naidu also took umbrage at the government’s dismissal of the protests. Referring to the High Court’s directive to probe into police action on protesters, Naidu said that the government refuses to engage in dialogue, instead dismissing all opposition. “At a time when there was all round progress in the state, this madman has come to power and halted progress. He (Jagan) reprimands anyone who stands up to him, whether it is you (protesters), me or Pawan Kalyan,” Naidu said.
He went on tell protesters that shifting the capital away from Amaravati does not concern just the 29 villages where land was pooled and used for the capital, but the entire 5 crore population of the state was affected.
However, several citizens from the Vizag and Kurnool regions, where the ‘executive’ and ‘judicial’ capital are set to come up, seem to have welcomed the three-capital proposal. Andhra Pradesh is set to convene a special session on January 20, where a final decision on the capital is expected to be taken.