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On June 2, 2024, the state of Andhra Pradesh lost its capital city, Hyderabad, leaving it without a formally recognised political and administrative centre for now. From today onwards, Hyderabad will only remain as the state capital of Telangana.

The new AP capital is likely to be determined by the June 4, 2024, election results and who wins. Either Amravati will be chosen as the standalone capital city or the tri-city capital concept could be adopted.

The background:

The bifurcation of the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh into two separate states was controversial, with the tussle over the capital city being one of the major issues of debate. Finally, with the enactment of the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, Hyderabad was delegated to function as the joint capital for 10 years. Section 5(1) laid down that "On and from the appointed day, i.e., June 2, Hyderabad in the existing state of Andhra Pradesh shall be the common capital of the state of Telangana and the state of Andhra for such period not exceeding 10 years."

After the expiration of the period, Hyderabad would remain the capital of Telangana only and there would be a newly designated capital for Andhra Pradesh.

Upon bifurcation in 2014, Chandrababu Naidu (Telegu Desam Party-TDP), the Andhra Pradesh CM at the time, stopped using Hyderabad for practical purposes and instead conducted most government activities out of Amravati.

N Chandrababu Naidu and YS Jagan Mohan Reddy
N Chandrababu Naidu and YS Jagan Mohan ReddySocial media

 Single city capital vs. Tri-city capitals? The law and politics at play

There are two laws that are at play here. First, the AP Decentralization and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020, which declared three seats of governance: Legislative, Executive and Judicial Capitals. In this case, if the incumbent YSR Congress Party retains power, it is likely that Visakhapatnam will be the administrative/legislative capital, Amravati will be the seat of legislature and Kurnool will be the judicial capital. In the event that Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSR Congress Party loses the election and TDP comes to power, Amravati is likely to be designated as the sole capital city of Andhra Pradesh.

Second, the AP Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA) has been changed by legislation into the Amaravati Metropolitan Region Development Authority, thereby indicating that Amravati could be considered as a capital under both options.

However, it remains to be seen how these laws will be reconciled once the political leadership is in place. Further, the Hon'ble Supreme Court is yet to come to a final decision on matters relating to disputes regarding the capital.

 What's next for Andhra Pradesh?

Andhra Pradesh is without a capital. It has been reported that the AP Government has written to the Telangana authorities requesting to continue its functions using 3 premises in Hyderabad until there is a permanent solution. However, this has remained in limbo due to the Model Code of Conduct being in effect. More clarity can be expected in the next week, once the election results are declared and the AP leadership is finalised.

There are examples of Indian states which have 2 capitals like Himachal Pradesh or share capitals like Punjab and Haryana which share Chandigarh. This unique experiment with 3 AP state capital cities will be an interesting case for governance and administration, if it is finally implemented.