Memoranda for Submission to the Chief Ministers of the Two Telugu States.


Chandranna’s and Jagananna’s Roles in the Distress Amaravathi Areas’ Farmers in Andhra Pradesh




Chandranna’s and Jagananna’s Roles in the Distress

Amaravathi Areas’ Farmers in Andhra Pradesh


 Dr T H Chowdary*


 The more than two hundred days long agitation of the more than  ten thousand farmer  families who parted with their  thirty thousand acres of  farm lands for  construction of Chandranna’s dream capital, Amaravathi for Andhra Pradesh does not  seem to have an end  any soon, nor can it have  a satisfactory solution as long as  Jagananna’s YSR Congress party’s rule lasts  in A.P.  Let us analyse  the issues involved.


2. A movement was launched for carving a  separate province,  Andhra comprising  of the Telugu speaking districts of  coastal Andhra and  Rayalaseema  (eleven  in number then)  in the first decade of the  20th century (Bapatla conference  in 1913).  The leaders in  Rayalaseema  apprehensive of domination by Coastal Andhra wanted to  continue their area in the Madras province,  believing  that they would get fairer treatment from the Tamil majority in Madras province. To  remove this apprehension, the Sribaugh Pact was concluded  between the leaders of Andhra and Rayalaseema  in  November 1937, at the house, Sribaug of Desodharaka Nageswar Rao Panthulu garu  in Chennai .  When the Andhra state was formed  in October 1953 in terms of the Sribaug pact, the capital was located in Rayalaseema’s  Kurnool and the High Court  was located in Coastal Andhra town, Guntur.


3. Visalandhra  comprising of  Andhra and Telangana was formed as Andhra Pradesh in November  1956. Then too, there was a   gentlemen’s  agreement  between the  leaders of Andhra  and Telangana regarding  sharing of  ministerial  power and use of Telangana’s  revenue surpluses .  The agreement was   broken in the  early years itself  leading to separatist  movements for division of AP by Telangana people in 1969 and by Andhra people in 1972, both of which were brutally  suppressed  by Prime Minister  Indira’s direction.  The “separate Telangana” agitation was resumed in April 2001.  It  succeeded in  June  2014, with the decision  of the foreign-origin Congress chief Sonia Maino (Gandhi) who was in command of the then UPA government in the Center.




4.  Chandra Babu Naidu was an influential political player in the Telugu lands since 1978, as minister(Congress and TDP) , Chief Minister ( 1995-2004) , Leader of Opposition  (2004-14), Chief Minister  of remnant AP (2014-’19) and Leader of  Opposition  in AP again  since 1909.  No other Telugu person has been and is in power politics in Telugu state(s) as Sri Naidu  who has  morphed into Chandranna (in the later half of his tenure) as Chief Minister of AP  (2014-19). Sri Naidu gifted  government money  as Chandranna’s Pasupu Kumkalu, kanukalu , Beema etc.  His party was routed   in the 2019 elections as people voted by the rival YSRC as its leader Sri Jagan Mohan Reddy (who as Chief Minister morphed into  Jagananna)  promised more gifts, to more sections of  voters.  In his four decades plus long  political career, Sri Naidu  was either in or in alliance with every political party for   some years  -   Congress, TDP, CPI, CPM,  Jana Sena, TRS and  BJP. The alliance  with BJP  gave him wo  wins (1999 and 2014). The break with  BJP cost  him two defeats (2004 & 2019) .  This long narration of  back ground  is necessary  to understand the  problems of Amaravati as capital of AP and the  farmers of that capital region.


5. How Amaravathi was chosen:  The Union government committed itself  to find and fund a capital for  the separate state of AP. Its Sivarama Krishnan Committee  recommended an area  around Donakonda  in Kurnool district of Rayalaseema, as ample  government land is available there.  Chief Minister Naidu  exercised the State’s right to decide where the capital should be . He chose Amaravathi. The Union government  would fund the constructions essential  for the capital  of state, as it funded the capitals  of the newly carved states  - Raipur  for Chattisgarh,  (out of Madhya Pradesh)  Ranchi for  Jharkhand (out of Bihar) and  Dehradun for  Uttarakhand (out of UP) .


6. Sri Naidu conceived of a capital  for the truncated (2014) state  of AP unparalleled splendour in the world and so acquired 30,000 ( about 250 sq. kms)  of cultivating land from farmers.  He conceived an unparalleled  scheme for acquiring the farm lands.  He would pay Rs. 40,000 per your per acre acquired to the owner farmer and give developed residential/ commercial plots  of an area whose price is equal to the price of the farmland  when it was acquired.  Many farmers took the  bait -   Rs. 40,000/ year  per acre  surrendered, with no labour and no risk and the prospect of windfall gain when they sell the developed plots in the world class capital of  Naidu’s dreams.


7. Chief Minister  Naidu decided to locate the  AP State’s  High Court also in Amaravathi.  This is  in gross and  cynical violation of the Sribaug pact between according to which , if  the capital  in Andhra area,  the High Court should be  in Rayalaseema. Andhra leaders honoured  the gentlemen’s Sribaug Pact in 1954 (?)   - capital was in Kurnool in Rayalaseema and  High Court in Guntur, Andhra area .  This break from the Sribaug pact is one reason  why there is   no support  from the Rayalaseema  people for the  Amaravathi farmers’  agitation  to retain the  capital in Amaravathi.


8.  In the 2019 elections, Chandranna’s TDP candidates including his son, were defeated by Jagananna’s YSRCP’s candidates in the capital region in the State.  Jagananna won 251 and Chandranna won a mere 2.4 seats. The reason is the voters’  belief that besides what the capital would mean to them in  future,  they would now itself  get the Nava Ratna gifts (large amounts of cash transfers from government treasury to  private accounts of large sections of voters) from Jagananna.  The voters’ belief of windfalls gains  is  belied by Jagananna’s decision  to split the capital into three.  The Executive capital  in Visakhapatnam enthuses the people in the three poor ( as poor, if not more than Rayalaseema) districts of  Srikakulam , Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam.  That is why there is  no visible support form these districts for the Amaravati region  farmers’ agitation. 


9.  Who are the  losers if AP’s capital  is split into  three?  Firstly and most  grievously,  are the farmer  families who parted with their farm lands  in the Amaravati capital region.  Is their  loss real  or national ? As long as they get Rs. 40,000 per year  per acre  surrendered,  with no labour or  anxiety ( like with  crop failure)  on their part (it is like pension), there is no loss to them except if inflation reduces the worth of Rs. 40,000 .  They could  rightly demand that the  amount should  be enhanced just as dearness allowance to government  ( in service as well as pensioned) servants is increased.


The farmers’ hope that the  (promised) allotment  of developed plots would enhance  their wealth is like that of investors  who buy shares in the  hope and  promise of rise in  share prices.   They “gambled” in the futures . The expected  gain would  not come as the Amaravati share as capital would be miniscule.  This is a loss in  again.  The farmers who parted with their land  will be worse off,  would be losers  if the compensation  of Rs. 40,000 per year per acre is discontinued  and if continued, it is not increased to  periodically to offset  inflation and rise in farm land prices which is happening continuously.


9.   There is another  set of losers  due to division of  capital.  Rich speculators  bought farmers’ lands    as  benami “farmers”.  As  benami  farmers,  they are losers heavily. They  are  suspected  to sustain  the real  farmers  months-  long agitation.


10. There is one  interesting  reason why support  for continuance of undisintegrated capital could  have  come, but has not come. Chandranna  called upon  people  of AP to contribute  money for  construction of the dream capital.   The contributions were named Amaravati Bricks (just as Ayodhya  Bricks for Ram Mandir) .  Some tens of crores of rupees came from  people  from all districts.  I suggested that Chandranna  forthwith construct guest houses named  after each district so that people  coming to their capital city from the districts  could rather     inexpensively stay in  their “own” guest houses in the capital.  Chandranna  did not care .  Thus, peoples   contributions lay unacknowledged, wasted.  If those guest house  came, the agitating farmers could be  getting some  sympathy and support for the “Save Amaravathi as Capital” agitation.


11. When he was the Chief Minister during  1995-2004, he was Chandra Babu Naidu but during  2014-19 he became  Chandranna; ( Big Brother caring for the poor of AP.  During the first period development was the over-riding agenda.   During the second period,  personal glorification preparatory to bequeathing  party presidentship and  Chief Ministership to his son ( only issue – so no sibling rivalry)    transformed Chandra Babu into  Chandranna  - elder  brother to the voters of A.P.  He took to populism.  He started  distributing government  money in his name -  Chandranna  Pasupu  Kumkalu, Chandranna Kanukalu; Chandranna Beema (insurance) began paying salaries  to Imams and  Muezzins; funded construction  of Urdu Ghars & Shadi Khanas; started building a Rs. 80 cr  12-storeyed Haj House in Vijayawada, gave Rs. 10 cr for the Tabligi conference in Kurnool in December  2018; enhanced government funding  for construction of churches from Rs. 300,000 to Rs. 500,000; increased  subsidy to Christians’  pilgrimage  to Jerusalem from Rs. 25,000, Rs. 50,000  just before elections  to Rs. 75,000 per person; gave  land for a magnificent Christian House in Amaravati and promised funds to upgrade Mary Mata’s church in Vijayawada to be better than St.Peter’s in Vatican  and all these, without  giving rupee from government revenues to Hindu temples  or Archakas.


12. Chandranna  believed that because  of transfer of government money in his name  (Chandranna’s this and that) , his party would be invincible .  Chandranna withheld payments to the extent of about Rs. 40,000 cr to contractors  and suppliers  so that he could  shower cash on voters in the  name of welfare. His make-believe greatness advertised  that he was attracting Rs 35 lakh  cr of  investment  into industries  and businesses into AP and so millions of jobs would be  created.  Sure of his  popularity  and invincibility , he broke  with the  BJP  dropping its two ministries  from the cabinet in  2017 (?).   He launched a dharma poratam, holy war against Modi with dharnas led by  himself and his ministers in district  town after town. He met with Mamata Banerjee , Kejriwal, Deve Gouda and his son and Stalin (DMK, Tamilnadu)  to forge a Front to dislodge  Modi .  In alliance with  Rahul Gandhi,  he campaigned for  Congress in elections  to the  Telangana Assembly in 2018. He bad-mouthed  Modi ( and the BJP) , almost every day  till his party’s  rout in AP in the 2019 elections  to Lok Sabha and the State Legislature. 


 The reason for the Union  Government’s  inaction and unconcern with Jagananna’s  trifurcation  of AP’s capital , abandonment of Amaravati’s   development, leaving  it merely as  seat of legislature is Chandranna’s  treachery  to BJP and  Prime Minister , Modi.   The BJP’s response  to  Jagananna government’s move to  abandon Amaravati’s development as full-fledged capital as  per Chandranna’s dream is: “We are  for Amaravati  as capital.  The Union government  gave  funds . Chandranna failed  to build the capital”.  This is  no consolation of the affected people. Government of India’s money went into  some constructions  in Amaravati. Would it be   infructuous or  an  inadequately beneficial investment?


13. Sri Chandranna whipped up another emotional issue to denounce the BJP.  The Polavaram irrigation project on river Godavari  would hugely benefit the poor north-east districts  of A.P.  It was conceived  as Rampadsagar project in the 1930s by Sir S V Rama Murthy, an ICS officer of Madras province .  It was never taken up even when Andhra (1953)  and Andhra Pradesh  (1956) were formed.  Chief Minister T. Anjaiah (1980 Oct- Feb’82); laid the foundation stone in 1980; Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy laid it again in 2005. Kiran Kumar Reddy laid  the third time in 2011  when the cost was  estimated at Rs. 16,000cr . Chandranna laid  the foundation stone the 4th time in Dec 2015.  It is  centrally funded but executed by the  state of AP  -  a concession given  to Chandranna as an ally of the BJP in the 2014 General Elections.  Chandranna made the Polavaram project as grand and prestigious  as the Amaravati capital  project.  He wanted  to complete this ( now estimated cost of over Rs. 50,000 cr) project before 2019 elections, an impossible task, considering that the  Nagarjuna Sagar  project on river Krishna for which Nehru  laid the foundation stone in early1960s  was completed in  the 1980s. Nationally funded and  undertaken Bhakhra Nangal, Damodar Valley projects took a decade and more to complete.  Chandranna  accused the GOI  of not releasing funds for speedy completion.


14. Yet another quarrel  that Chandranna picked with the Central government and Sri Modi was about “ special status” to AP. This was a promise  made by Prime Minister  Manmohan Singh during the debate on the bill for bifurcation of AP, and not a part of the Bill / Act.  The Modi government offered a “special  package” in lieu of  special status”. Sri Naidu accepted  it and  commended the “ special package” in the Assembly as more beneficial than special status,. But after break with the BJP, he raised the demand for “special status” and made it part of his Dharma Poratam ( holy war) rallies and Dharnas (sit outs) all over AP.   


15. The Navaratna (nine diamonds)  scheme of  distribution of government money as charity in the   personal name of the Chief Minister  ( the practice initiated by Chandranna)  is being extensively  and intensively  practised by the  YSRCP Chief Minister , Jagananna since 2019.  In the first year of  his  rule  Rs. 41,000 cr were gifted to  the poor.  The “evil” deeds and decisions  of  Chandranna are being put an end to”, so asserts Jagananna “Capital Amaravati  , the glittering and  glamourous  and fabulous project of Chandranna” was steeped in sin, in corruption . To make the people realise that Chandranna should never again be  voted to power, what all he did in corruption must be  undone”, Jagananna proclaims.  


16. So Jagananna decided to divide the  capital functionally into three – High Court in Kurnool, Rayalaseema ( so, keeping to Sri Baug Pact), executive offices comprising Ministries, Secretariat, Commissionerate’s, Departments ,  Directorates which constitute government  at the highest level, in Visakhapatnam leaving  only the Legislative Assembly and Council part of the  State in Amaravati .  This requires no more than a few  scores of acres including those for MLA/MLC quarters /hostel.  Which businesses, industries, institutions would come there and why?  The “capital region” won’t develop  . The expected rise in price for plots allotted to farmers whose lands were, acquired, won’t take place. 


17. Would the annual payment of Rs. 40,000  per acre acquired (Rs. 120 cr /year)  be in perpetuity; would it be indexed to inflation ? Could it be commuted?  What purpose would the  undeveloped  vacant land serve?  The farmers  have no answers .  That is their distress. Chandranna’s  delusion that he and his son after  him would   rule for  successive 5-year terms  because of his  fantabulous capital city,  spectacular Polavaram  irrigation project and inflow of 35 lakh  crores of investment and through them, millions  of jobs,  has become the  cause of Amaravati farmers’  distress. 


18. The poor in the area including the  farmers were enchanted  by the charities , the Navarathnas (9 diamonds) promised by Jagananna and  voted for him, defeating all the three Chandranna’s candidates including his son, the prospective successor.  They are victims  of rivalry  between the two annas (Chandanna & Jagananna)  and also of their own wish for wealth from  the high-price for the  developed  plots they would get  in the  world’s grandest city of Chandranna’s conception.  Their double belief that they would  benefit from Chandranna’s Amaravathi  city and Jagananna’s  Navaratnas (money  transfers) , led to their distress. The Chief Minister is appearing in a CBI court. The cases are dragging on. The BJP has no hope of ever coming to power on it’s own  in AP (except as a miracle as in Tripura). That is why the Union government lead by it, seems to be  a mere spectator of the duels between Chandra Babu and Jagan Mohan Reddy. Thinking people of AP are dismayed at the lack of economic and industrial and business development as tax and loan monies get spent on charity to keep the poor in painless life. Competitive populist policies of the politically ambitious regional party leaders in AP may “Biharify” Andhra Pradesh. Preya (temporary pleasure) is trumping Shreya (long term prosperity). (2750 words).