Vijayawada: The stage is set for the for the foundation stone laying ceremony of new Andhra Pradesh capital Amaravati on Thursday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone at at Uddandarayunipalem village in Guntur district on the occasion of Dussehra.
Elaborate arrangements have been made for the gala event, which will be attended by ministers from Singapore and Japan, ambassadors from various countries, several central ministers, chief ministers and governors of various states, top politicians and business leaders.
Police have taken control of the venue, where more than two lakh people from different parts of the state are expected to gather.
The prime minister along with other dignitaries will perform rituals at 12.35 p.m. to formally lay the foundation stone.
Soil and water brought from all 16,000 villages of Andhra Pradesh will be sprinkled all over Amaravati from helicopters. Water brought from holy places of all the religions will also be used for the foundation stone.
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao will be attending the ceremony. This will be his first visit to Andhra Pradesh after bifurcation of the state last year.
Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu personally met Rao in Hyderabad on Sunday and invited him for the ceremony.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan, Tamil Nadu Governor Rosaiah, Assam and Nagaland Governor Padmanabha Acharya will attend the event.
YSR Congress party chief Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, who is the leader of opposition in Andhra Pradesh, has decided to boycott the ceremony. He wrote an open letter to Naidu, asking him not to invite him. Jagan alleged that fertile lands were forcibly taken from farmers for the capital.
The government, however, claimed that farmers had voluntarily donated over 30,000 acres of land for the building the capital. Some of the farmers will be felicitated at the foundation stone laying ceremony.
Naidu has promised that it will be a world-class and ‘people’s capital’. He had invited prime ministers of Singapore and Japan for the event but the ministers from the two countries are expected to attend.
While the government of Singapore has prepared masterplan for the capital, Naidu is seeking partnership of Japan in building the city.
Naidu is also hoping that Narendra Modi will use the occasion to announce special status and a package for the state. He has been pressing for special category status to undone the ‘injustice’ done to the state with the bifurcation.
Naidu, whose Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is a partner in BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, is under fire from the opposition for failing to get the special status despite the promise made by Modi during poll campaign.
The chief minister also wants the Centre to extend help in building the capital. “We need the handholding by the Centre till the state develops on par with other neighbouring states,” said Naidu ahead of Modi’s first visit to the state after bifurcation.