Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy told his Cabinet colleagues on Tuesday, 14 March, that he would be working from Visakhapatnam from July.
His assertion came after he announced at least twice in the last two months that the coastal city would be the administrative capital of the state in the days to come, and that he would shift there soon.
A case related to his government’s plan to establish three capitals will come up for hearing before the Supreme Court on 28 March.
Meanwhile, the chief minister also asked his Cabinet colleagues to go aggressively into the public with messages about the large-scale welfare schemes implemented by the Andhra Pradesh government in the last four years.
What Jagan said
On Tuesday, in a chat with ministers after the Cabinet meeting, Jagan told them that he would be working from Visakhapatnam from July.
“Governance will be from Visakhapatnam from July onwards. Decentralisation has been our government’s agenda, and I will be working from Visakhapatnam from July onwards as part of it,” Jagan is said to have told his Cabinet colleagues.
Speculations have been rife that he would shift to Visakhapatnam and start working from there from Ugadi — the beginning of a new Hindu calendar year, as celebrated in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Telangana — which falls on 22 March.
On 31 January, at a meeting of diplomats in Delhi, Jagan said: “Here I am, to invite you to Visakhapatnam, which is going to be our capital. I myself will also be shifting over to Visakhapatnam in the months to come.”
Later, in his inaugural speech at Global Investors Summit on 3 March, Jagan again asserted that Visakhapatnam would shortly be the executive capital of the state, and that he would be shifting there.
On both occasions, Jagan did not provide any further details or an exact timeframe.
The current status
Meanwhile, no mention of three capitals in the governor’s speech on Tuesday during the joint address in the state legislature surprised many.
Over the past few years, the three-capital issue has found mention whenever the Governor has addressed a joint session.
The YSRCP government has been pushing for three capitals for the state as part of its aim to apparently decentralise governance and aid the development of different regions.
It is learnt that the government had already finalised a few buildings in Andhra Pradesh to house some government offices, the chief minister’s residence (CMO), and the camp office.
The CMO is expected to function from one of the blocks being constructed for resorts by the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) on the Rushikonda hillock, overlooking the Bay of Bengal.
The construction activity on Rushikonda has been embroiled in a controversy, with environmentalists raising several red flags alleging environmental and ecological destruction, which delayed the work.
If the office space is not available on Rushikonda hill on time, one of the government guest houses in Visakhapatnam could temporarily host the CMO.
The 3-capital plan
It was on 17 December, 2019 — during the winter session of the Assembly — that Jagan first floated the idea of three capitals for Andhra Pradesh on the lines of the South African model.
Touting decentralised governance and equitable development of all regions in the state as the aim, he proposed three capitals for post-bifurcation Andhra Pradesh, which lost Hyderabad to the newly-formed Telangana in 2014.
Visakhapatnam was to be the executive capital — where the chief minister, the Cabinet and the bureaucracy would sit.
Amaravati in the Palnadu district was to be the legislative capital — the seat of the Assembly.
And Kurnool would host the Andhra Pradesh High Court, making it the judicial capital.