1953 A Capital Story

Published: 07th September 2014 06:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st December 2014 12:06 PM   |  A+A-


Justice Wanchoo toured prominent Telugu towns in January 1953. He received about 5,000 memoranda and interviewed many. On February 7, 1953, he submitted his report to the Government of India. The Government considered it for 45 days and published it simultaneously with Nehru’s announcement on March 25, 1953. Long before its publication, its suggestion that the temporary capital of the Andhra State could be located in Madras city had leaked out. The Tamils were agitated. Twenty-four non- Andhra MPs from Madras State from all parties excluding Communists expressed themselves against even the temporary location of Andhra capital in Madras. An all-party protest was organised in Madras. In March, 32 non-Andhra MPs submitted a memorandum to Nehru about the inexpediency of having even the temporary location of the Andhra capital or the Andhra High Court in Madras and also warned him that if it was decided to allow the Andhras to have their capital in Madras, it would not only make the city of Madras a battleground but would also project these troubles into the areas in Tamilnadu where a large Andhra population is now living at peace with their neighbours. This was endorsed by 153 non-Andhra members of the Madras Legislature. The Andhra leaders generally welcomed the reported recommendation.

Dr S Radhakrishnan, then Vice- President, and VV Giri, then Minister for Labour, assured Nehru that they would personally see to it that the location of the capital would in fact be temporary and would not lead to renewal of any Andhra claims regarding the future of the city. But what seems to have clinched the issue was the reported threat of the resignation of C Rajagopalachari, the Chief Minister, if the government of India accepted Justice Wanchoo’s reported recommendation. On March 25, 1953, Nehru announced in the House of the People that an Andhra state consisting of Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam, East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur, Nellore, Kurnool, Anantapur, Cuddapah and Chittoor districts and the Alur, Adoni and Rayadrug talukas of Bellary district, would be formed, that the question of Bellary Taluk would be considered later, that the remaining six taluks of Bellary district would form part of Mysore State, that the temporary capital of the Andhra State should be located in Andhra territory and that the decision as to the site of the temporary capital would be taken by the Andhra members of the Madras Legislative Assembly. On March 19, 1953, Sanjiva Reddy was unanimously elected the leader of the Andhra Congress legislators in Madras.

He wanted to bring all the democratic parties in Andhra together on the question of the location of capital and began to work in that direction. A rapid realignment of political forces in Andhra had been expected after Nehru’s announcement of December 19, 1952. Of the 140 Andhra members of the Madras Assembly, the party-wise strength on 26 December 1952 was as follows: Communists 40; Congress 40; KMP 20; KLP 15; Socialists 6; Scheduled Castes Federation 1; and Independents 17. In April 1953, KLP decided to have the associate membership of the Congress Party. Sanjiva Reddy convened a meeting of Andhra legislators which was attended by representatives of Praja Socialists and KLP too.

The first task of the Andhra legislators was to decide the location of the temporary capital of the Andhra State. As he was interested in forging unity among all democratic parties of Andhra, initially Sanjiva Reddy declared that there would be no party mandate on the location of the capital or the High Court. If voting was to be free, it was doubtful whether the 86 MLAs of the coastal districts from Srikakulam to Guntur, would vote in favour of the capital in distant Rayalaseema in preference to centrally located Vijayawada. A vote in favour of Vijayawada might strengthen the hands of the Communists. So Sanjiva Reddy changed his views and decided that there should be a party mandate on the question. The Andhra legislators of the Madras Legislative Assembly met for five days in the first week of June 1953 to decide on the temporary capital of the Andhra State. The Communists demanded that the matter be decided by a secret ballot.

A resolution to make Kurnool the temporary capital, was passed by a voice vote. A few weeks later, the KLP changed its view and demanded that Tirupati or any other place in Chittoor district be made the capital. The Andhra State Bill was discussed in the Madras Legislature in July 1953. On 25 July, an amendment moved by Latchanna of KLP to locate the capital in Chittoor district was lost. An amendment to substitute ‘Guntur- Vijayawada’ for ‘Kurnool’ as capital was lost by a single vote, but it is worth noting that five non- Andhra members, voted against the amendment. If the votes of only the Andhra MLAs were to be considered, Kurnool would not have become the temporary capital.

(Excerpts from ‘The Emergence of Andhra Pradesh’ authored by KV Narayana Rao)


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