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Amaravati: From Dream capital to a Ghost town

AmaravatiFrom-Dream-capital-to-a-Ghost-town

Much of the year 2020 has been spent, wondering over the ‘state’ of Andhra Pradesh. Whether you are new to the discipline of geography or not, most people were introduced to the field through looking at maps or elementary school exercises where you were made to memorize capital cities.

While these activities are indeed fundamental to geography, the discipline expands well beyond the confines of maps and capital cities. One might wonder what has all this got to do with Andhra Pradesh in juxtaposing it over 2020 to understand the year that is fading away into history.

Geopolitics, as the struggle over the control of spaces and places, focuses on power, or the ability to achieve particular goals in the face of opposition or alternatives. Having understood this, we need to elaborate further, to comprehend Andhra Pradesh in 2020.

We need to understand the geopolitics that have come into play this year to know why the state is on a precipice of a dilemma. Do we have a capital or not? Can anyone from the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh which came into existence in 2014 ever claim to have a capital? This doubt becomes pertinent in the face of the long-winding legal battle that the state has entered.

Amaravati would have been our capital, provided we were to have a city springing up there. Or at least a proper working arrangement. It did not happen during the term of the first government of the residuary state. Next came a different rule.

This one does not accept or recognize the existence of the capital as “nothing stands here except some temporary structures”. Farmers of the conjured ‘Amaravati’ donated 33,000 acres of land to the land pool proposed by the Government. As if someone performed a ‘Houdini’s Act’ these lands lost their shape and character in a jiffy only to remain barren now.

The ‘Capital’ now is in litigation and no one knows when and where it would come up subject to the final outcome. By the way, what is capital? Is it where the people reside or where the ‘Raja’’ lives? If there is a puzzle to be understood and solved by the people of AP, this one is the toughest.

And so the debate goes on endlessly in 2020 over the state of the capital. Next to dominate the year was the ‘Tom & Jerry Show’. All of us have watched it at one point in time or the other. This show too has two players -the state and the SEC. Like the capital shift, the state sought the SEC head’s shift too.

This show too finally ended in litigation and it keeps entertaining the people often, week by week, in an episodic manner. Tragedies galore struck the people this year, yet, the biggest of all was the LG Polymers tragedy of Visakhapatnam that claimed about a dozen lives and hospitalized many more. What was shocking was the optics of it.

The way people were falling like ninepins after inhaling the poisonous gas. Somehow, this too was kicked to the litigation box and it lies there. There was joy among the sections benefited by the manifesto implementation of course. Why not? After all, rarely does one come across such seriousness in implementing the promises notwithstanding the financial stakes involved.

But, all this has come in the wake of the disgusting Covid-19 which the government thought would be an easy walk initially. No. It had its toll. It was a blessing in disguise because the Government used to upgrade the facilities in hospitals, strengthened the infrastructure, and did a good job by scaling up the tests to the number one position in the country. ‘Naadu, Nedu’ was another blessing with the education infrastructure getting a facelift.

Politically speaking, the state gained nothing much from the Centre. Polavaram remains at a slow pace affected by politics. The Special Category Status has vanished from the horizon. The bitterness and rivalry between the ruling party and the Opposition (read TDP) has only increased. Jana Sena keeps coughing and huffing and puffing on and off with its leader seeking the elusive path to glory.

The BJP in the State remains in a confused state in identifying its enemy. The Left is left out. One could only hope that the mist clears over everything this coming year.

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