Vijayawada: The dusty coastal town of Ongole seems to have lost the race for the capital city of residual state of Andhra Pradesh after bifurcation. Ongole, neglected for decades but endowed with vast stretches of vacant government land, was touted as the probable capital of Seemandhra soon after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) resolution on July 30. But 100 days later, none of the prominent leaders from Seemandhra region talk about Ongole as the capital material.
Most of the political leaders including Union ministers in their memoranda to the Group of Ministers (GoM) have proposed the Vijayawada-Guntur region to locate the new capital. Leaders from north coastal Andhra suggested Visakhapatnam while those from Rayalaseema favoured location of the capital in their region.
The capital talk has gained momentum after Congress leaders from Seemandhra region reconciled to the decision of the high command. Union minister Daggubati Purandeswari, who represented her first term as MP from her homeland Prakasam district, did not raise the pitch for Ongole as capital. Other Union ministers JD Seelam and Panabaka Lakshmi, though connected with Prakasam district, also ignored Ongole.
Sources said senior Congress leaders have deliberately ignored the case of Ongole to compromise with their Cabinet colleagues on the new capital, as senior Union ministers Kavuri Sambasiva Rao and MM Pallam Raju, who represent Godavari districts, are not inclined for Ongole.
“Ongole, which has been nobody’s baby, does not serve the political agenda of senior public representatives in the Seemandhra region. Their political and business interests lie elsewhere. Thus nobody is talking of Ongole as the capital,” observed Prof LSN Prasad of Acharya Nagarjuna University.
He said it is a well-known fact that many political leaders own real estate in Vijayawada and Guntur and hence a capital city in Vijayawada will boost the property value. Another argument doing the rounds is that the areas being represented by senior Congress leaders centre round Vijayawada-Guntur, and hence it will fetch them political dividends.
At least five ministers from the region including Pallam Raju and Sambasiva Rao suggested that the Centre develop Vijayawada-Guntur as the new capital of the bifurcated state.