Mangalagiri, a small municipal town close to Vijayawada, has become the epicentre of Andhra Pradesh politics with the state capital is likely to come up at this location.
With Mangalagiri being the first preference of chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu for building state capital, speculation is rife in the political circles as to why he is so fixated on it, particularly when huge tracts of government land is readily available in Nuzvid.
Contrary to general perception, Mangalagiri is not a Kamma dominant area. Their population is very thin in almost all the villages along the national highway right from Guntur to Vijayawada. Not even a single village panchayat is being administered by leaders of the community .
Kammas neither control politics nor hold any land property in any of villages close to Mangalagiri.
The experts panel headed by Sivaramakrishnan too is against building capital between Vijayawada and Guntur. Then, why is Naidu so firm on Mangalagiri? Although, leaders close to Naidu, including his cabinet colleagues, are mincing no words about Mangalagiri being shortlisted for building a word-class capital as it is close to the river Krishna, but very few insiders know the exact reasons.
According to sources, the villages dominated by Kammas are outside Mangalagiri, and hence they would be the ultimate beneficiaries if the new capital comes up here.
Analysts suspect that the Kammas own huge tracts of land in Nuzvid, Agiripalle, Gannavaram, Bapulapadu, Chatrai and Musunuru mandals and if the capital is built in this town, ultimately they might end up as losers due to land acquisition.
On the other hand, most of the villages in and around Mangalagiri are dominated by Reddys and Kapus. Almost all the unreserved village panchayats are being held by Reddys and Kapus.
According to official sources, the Kamma population in Pedakakani village would be just around 1,000 against a total population of 12,000. They reportedly own about 500 acres of land out of the 2,000-2,500 acres in the village.
While Kammas' presence is almost nil in Reddy-dominated Namburu, and Venigandla villages, their presence is negligible in the Kapu-dominant Koppuravuru. Kantheru is again a Reddy stronghold and Kaza, where Chandrababu Naidu's swearing in ceremony was held, is a Kapu and Reddy dominated village. Similarly, Yarrabalem, Bethapudi, Chinnakakani are Kapu villages and Nidamarru, Penumaka and Undavalli are Reddy fortresses.
“Except for Pedavadlapudi, no village in Mangalagiri surroundings is a Kamma dominated one,“ said P Bhanuprakash, a farmer of Pedavadlapudi. While Nutakki and Tadepalli are Reddy villages, Atmakuru, Kolanukonda, Kunchanapalli, Chirravuru are again Kapu dominated villages.
“Many villages in Amaravathi, Tulluru and Tenali mandals have significant Kamma population. Perhaps, locating the capital in Mangalagiri might help the landlords of these areas,“ said professor N Prasad of ANU. While locating the capital without acquiring green fields would help all, Naidu's plans to take over nearly 50,000 acres would render many small and marginal farmers penniless, he observed.
He explained that no farmer in Mangalagiri zone owns more than 10 acres of land and thousands of farmers depend on cultivation in 2-4 acres. Locating the capital in Mangalagiri is likely to hit the rival Reddy and Kapus because of land acquisition and they may have to be content with 24 cents of land given per acre after land acquisition.
On the other hand, those who own land in the abutting mandals including in Krishna district might get benefitted as these areas outside the capital would be used for commercial purposes giving multifold gain.