Battle over Amaravati spills to the streets, Naidu’s convoy attacked

Chandrababu Naidu, TDP
TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu waves at a gathering during his visit to Amaravati

The war of words over the fate of Amaravati, the ambitious capital city of Andhra Pradesh, intensified on Thursday (November 28), triggering violence during the tour of former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu in the region.

Naidu’s convoy came under attack, allegedly by the ruling YSR Congress Party workers and some irate farmers, at Rayapudi near Vijayawada. Waving black flags and raising “Naidu go back” slogans, the protesters pelted stones at the bus carrying the Telugu Desam Party chief and his party colleagues. Slippers were also hurled at the convoy.

Chandrababu Naidu, TDP
Former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu during his visit to Amaravati on Thursday

Following the attack, the TDP and YSRCP workers clashed, however, the police swung into action and defused the situation.

Also read | YSRCP govt scraps Amaravati capital city startup area project

Naidu’s tour of the core capital region was meant to highlight the “deliberate neglect” of the dream project ever since the YSRCP took over the reins of the state in May this year. The visit, the first by Naidu since he lost power in the April elections, created a flutter in the ruling party circles.

“I am visiting Amaravati to meet the farmers who had voluntarily given their lands for building the capital city. This visit is to safeguard the symbol of Telugu self-respect,” the former chief minister said before embarking on the tour.

‘Burial ground’

Raising the political temperature ahead of the opposition mobilisation, the State Municipal Administration Minister B Satyanarayana likened Amaravati to “smashanam” (burial ground) and wondered whether Naidu was going there “to witness the capital burial ground and cry”.

The TDP leaders took umbrage over the minister’s comments and said they reflected the negative attitude of the government which has kept the ₹60,000 crore project on the backburner.

Also read | TDP takes Amaravati to Parliament, to seek central intervention

Chandrababu Naidu, TDP
TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu interacted with the farmers who had given their lands for the state capital

“Such comments are unpardonable. If you can’t respect your capital city, at least respect the sentiments of farmers who pooled their lands, respect the name which was derived from the glorious civilisation of yore, respect the identity and hopes of five crore Telugu people whom you represent,” Naidu tweeted.

The TDP supremo began his visit from Praja Vedika, a meeting hall abutting his house near Vijayawada that was demolished after YSRCP came to power, on the ground that it was constructed on the river bed in violation of the rules.

Later, he visited Uddandarayunipalem village, where the foundation stone for the state capital was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 22, 2015. He also interacted with the farmers who had given their lands for the state capital and inspected some of the components of Amaravati project, including the residential complexes for IAS and IPS officials, MLAs and MLCs, undertaken during his regime.

‘Killing Amaravati’

Naidu alleged that the Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy was “killing” Amaravati by stopping all the works related to the project.

“I am really pained at whatever is happening. Jagan is on course to erase both the past and future, leaving nothing for the coming generations. That will be his legacy,” Naidu tweeted.

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“Very few people supporting YSRCP have resorted to stone-pelting. A majority of farmers welcome my father’s visit,” said Naidu’s son and TDP leader Nara Lokesh.

M Venkatrao, a farmer from Mandadam village who gave one-acre land for the project, said that Naidu’s visit rekindled their hopes about Amaravati.

On their part, the YSRCP leaders said that the TDP chief has no moral right to visit Amaravati as he could complete only 5% of the works in five years and that too involved several irregularities.