Hold referendum on three capitals move: Chandrababu Naidu dares Jagan

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(Eds: Adds fresh inputs) Amaravati, Dec 17 (PTI) Opposition Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday challenged the Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy government to conduct a referendum on the three capitals for the state plan and vowed to quit politics if people voted for it.

He demanded that the Chief Minister apologise to the people and withdraw the move to relocate the state capital in deference to the wishes of six crore people of the state.

Naidu addressed a massive rally 'Amaravati Janabheri' at Rayapudi village here to mark the first anniversary of the farmers' struggle for retaining Amaravati as the state capital.

Meanwhile, the TDP alleged that several of its leaders and those of other opposition were placed under 'house-arrest' across the state to prevent them from participating in the rally.

It was on this day last year that the Chief Minister came up with the idea of having three capitals for the state, on the lines of South Africa.

Subsequently, his government passed a legislation naming Visakhapatnam as the Executive Capital and Kurnool as the Judicial Capital while retaining Amaravati as the Legislative Capital.

The matter is now sub-judice as the farmers who had given up over 33,000 acres of their fertile lands for the development of Amaravati city, moved the Andhra Pradesh High Court opposing the relocation of the state capital.

Since December 17 last, the local farmers, with the support of political parties and other organisations, have been conducting a peaceful agitation demanding that Amaravati be retained as the state capital.

Barring the ruling YSR Congress, all political parties and people's organisations extended support to the agitation and took part in the rally that was held amid severe restrictions by the police.

'No sane person will shift the (state) capital. In case, are you ready for a referendum on the issue? I will permanently quit politics if people back your move,' Naidu told Jagan Reddy.

He called the YSRC chief one time CM and claimed the latter was sure to bite the dust at the hustings next time.

'People voted Jagan to power after he sought just one chance. But this would be his last chance as he completely betrayed the people. He can't escape the curse of the women,' the leader of opposition in the assembly said.

Earlier, Naidu went round the bhoomi puja site in Uddandarayanipalem village, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation-stone for the development of Amaravati in October 2015.

The TDP supremo then went into the Yagashala, where a yagnam was performed in 2015, and paid obeisance by prostrating.

The opposition party claimed Naidu was initially blocked from visiting the village and allowed only after its leaders lodged a protest with senior police officials.

Hundreds of police personnel were posted on all roads in the capital region and even normal traffic was not allowed, particularly towards Mandadam and Velagapudi villages where the state Secretariat is located.

TDP leaders, including former deputy chief minister N China Rajappa, were kept under house-arrest in different districts, the party alleged.

Leader of the Opposition in the state Legislative Council Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said the 'house-arrests' only exposed the 'cowardice' of the Chief Minister.

All democratic forces should condemn the 'oppressive acts' of the Jagan Mohan Reddy regime, he said in a statement.

BJP state president Somu Veerraju, who extended solidarity with the agitating farmers, asserted in a statement that his party stood for Amaravati as the state capital.

'BJP will undertake a movement for Amaravati as the capital city. We will exert pressure on the state government.

The Central government is committed to do everything thats beneficial to the state,' Veerraju said.

The Congress, which too extended support to the farmers agitation, said Jagan as the then leader of opposition voted for Amaravati as the capital city.

'Even people of Rayalaseema, the region to which Jagan belongs, are opposed to the three capitals idea. He should give it up,' Congress working president N Thulasi Reddy said.

The Left parties, Jana Sena and other outfits extended support to the Amaravati agitation. PTI DBV VS VS