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Visakhapatnam as Andhra capital: Will YSRCP’s proposal cut ice with voters?

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Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and YSR Congress Party chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy releases the party manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections at Tadepalli, in Guntur district, Saturday, April 27, 2024

Visakhapatnam: Known as the city of destiny, Visakhapatnam holds significant importance as a Lok Sabha constituency, especially with the incumbent YSR Congress Government proposing to designate it as the state's "executive capital" in the context of the "three capitals" concept.

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Presently, Amaravati is the capital of Andhra Pradesh. The ruling YSRCP wants to make Visakhapatnam as "executive capital", Amaravati the "legislative capital" and Kurnool as "judicial capital." The upcoming Parliament elections will see the YSRCP striving to retain the seat, while the opposition TDP, narrowly missing victory in 2019, is set to challenge its rival.

MVV Satyanarayana of YSR Congress defeated his nearest TDP rival M Sribharat by a margin of over 4000 votes in the Parliament Elections in 2019.

This time, Sribharat has been fielded again while the YSRCP chose to pit Botcha Jhansi Lakshmi, wife of minister Satyanarayana to take on the TDP pick.

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As the lone cosmopolitan city in the state, Vizag boasts of major infra and industries like a sea port, the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited and the HPCL refinery, contributing to its multicultural character.

With nearly 20 lakh voters, the port city has seven assembly segments with TDP winning four in the 2019 assembly polls. However, one of them defected to the ruling party which also holds the mayoral position of the city.

KSRK Raju, president of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Associations of India (CREDAI) Visakhapatnam says, though the proposal to make the city as the executive capital is welcome, the government should have begun rolling out necessary infrastructure to sustain the growth.

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"We welcome the decision to make Visakhapatnam as capital. But before that, the government needs to study what kind of population growth is expected in the coming ten years and the kind of vehicular movement that will be witnessed in future and accordingly improve infrastructure," Raju told PTI.

According to him, in the absence of proper infra facilities, Vizag will also suffer like any other cities with drinking water problems and clogged roads.

He further said there is still no major road connectivity to the upcoming international airport at Bhogapuram, about 40 KM from here.

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Welcoming the state government's proposal, AP Mechanised Fishing Boat Operators Association president Vasupalli Janakiram said once the city becomes capital, job opportunities will grow.

He also said there are about three lakh voters belonging to the fishermen community in Vizag Lok Sabha constituency and that they may rally behind the ruling party.

"The state government is constructing fishing harbours at various locations along the coast. The infrastructure would certainly help our community," he added.

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Retired IAS officer EAS Sharma, a prominent citizen of Visakhapatnam said decentralisation of buildings is not equal to decentralisation of government.

He opined that once a city is declared capital, the land value goes up and accordingly taxes will also shoot up.

"I agree that the whole thing is on paper. It does not help the common man…for a common man property taxes will go up. There will be water shortage, congestion and pollution. I don't see much of an advantage (if Vizag is made capital)," Sharma said.

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Sohan Hatangadi, Vice President, Greater Visakhapatnam Citizens Forum the move, is not good for Vizag citizens except some sections.

"But largely, it will be distressing for most people, because of crowds and increased traffic things like that. Too many street corner protests, sirens. So on and so forth. We don't like it,” Hattangadi said.

According to Lakshmi Mukkavalli, president of Information Technology Association of Andhra Pradesh (iTAAP) there are about 25,000 employees dependent on the IT sector in the state, with majority of them in Visakhapatnam.

She, however, refused to comment on Vizag being proposed as capital of the state by the YSR Congress party.

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