The Andhra Pradesh government managed to table a bill proposing three state capitals in the Legislative Council after the Telugu Desam Party blocked its introduction for eight hours on Tuesday, PTI reported. The Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill, 2020, had been passed in the Legislative Assembly on Monday night.

The ruling YSR Congress Party, which has a majority in the Lower House, has just nine members in the 58-member Upper House. The Telugu Desam Party has a majority in the Council. Its opposition to the bill led to five adjournments during the day.

The government also introduced a bill to repeal the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority Act, 2014.

The situation in the state has been tense since last month, when Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy declared his plan to have three capitals the executive capital in Visakhapatnam, legislative capital in Amaravati, and judicial capital in Kurnool. Reddy’s government wanted to move the state secretariat and the chief minister’s office to Visakhapatnam and the High Court to Kurnool.

In the Upper House, the TDP gave a notice under Rule 71 and moved a motion “disapproving the policy of the government”. Chairperson MA Shariff allowed the motion, though all Cabinet ministers in the Council tried to thwart attempts to stall the Bill.

Senior minister Botsa Satyanarayana asked Shariff not to use the Council for “political business”. “Go by the rule book,” he added. “Don’t do politics. It will be a blot on you.”

Legislative Affairs Minister Buggana Rajendranath said taking up the motion under Rule 71 and putting off the Bill would set a bad precedent and have far-reaching consequences.

Sharrif allowed the government to move the bills in the evening.

Protests against government’s plan

Hundreds of farmers and women in Amaravati region on Monday defied prohibitory orders and broke security cordons to reach the state legislature complex. Police baton-charged them to quell the crowd. As many as 17 Telugu Desam Party MLAs were also suspended from the Assembly for disrupting Reddy’s address about the Bill.

The 17 TDP members were suspended when they continued shouting “Jai Amaravati” during the address of the Leader of the House. Marshals entered the House to evict the members when they refused to leave.

Several TDP leaders, including former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, and 17 MLAs were also detained later in the night as they tried to take out a march against the government’s decision. They were taken to the Mangalagiri police station.

Police also prevented Jana Sena Party President Pawan Kalyan from going to the Amaravati region to speak to protestors. Kalyan asked how the police could impose restrictions within his own office.

While moving the bill in the Assembly, Finance and Legislative Affairs Minister Buggana Rajendranath said the government decided to enact a new legislation for decentralisation and the inclusive development of all regions in the state for ensuring “balanced and inclusive growth”.

“Regional imbalances, absence of equitable growth have caused an acute sense of deprivation among various sections of the state population,” he said. “The logical solution would be to lay emphasis on distributed development and decentralised administration to ensure that fruits of socio-economic progress are enjoyed equally by people of various regions,” Rajendranath added, quoting the recommendations of a high-power committee of ministers and bureaucrats, which formed the basis of the new legislation.