"In 1327, (the then Mughal ruler) Muhammad bin Tughluq passed an order to move his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad (in present-day Maharashtra) in the Deccan region of India. Tughluq said that it would help him to establish control over the fertile land of the Deccan plateau and to create a more accessible capital since his empire had grown more in the south."

This line, from history textbooks, is often quoted as an example for ridiculous decisions taken under the guise of administrative convenience.

As it happens, even this pales in comparison to what is reportedly being planned by the Andhra Pradesh government.

The news is Andhra Pradesh chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy wants four capitals for the state. If one were to go by the words of Rajya Sabha member TG Venkatesh (BJP), Jagan has put forth a plan to develop capitals in four different regions in a bid to ensure there is all-round development.

Jagan and or his party colleagues have not yet confirmed this. But ever since he came to power, Jagan has put all works on hold to make Amaravati the capital of new Andhra Pradesh (after Telangana was hived off). Amaravati was the brainchild of former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu. He had unveiled massive programmes to make a mega-capital city out of Amaravati. A gargantuan sum of Rs 1.5 lakh crore was earmarked for the development planned over three phases.

Alleging large-scale corruption and maladministration in the process, Jagan's government has, however, hit the pause button and also called for a review of all the works okayed by the previous dispensation. It was all part of the revenge politics that Andhra Pradesh is infamous for.

And there have been conflicting statements on the status of capital city from the various leaders in Jagan's party.

In the backdrop of all this comes the news that Jagan is planning four different capital cities in four different regions of the state. Apparently, Jagan, when he was in New Delhi on Monday (August 26), had broached the subject with the Union home minister Amit Shah.

The plan is to have four different capitals while continuing with Amaravati as an administrative hub, sources say. As per the proposal, Andhra Pradesh will have four capital cities at Vizianagaram, Kakinada, Guntur and Kadapa.

Of course, there is no clear answer to the question as to why should a relatively small state like Andhra Pradesh need four capital cities. The unkind talk in the corridors of power in the state is that such a move would only benefit the contractors and builders close to the YSR Congress Party who will doubtless walk away with all the construction contracts.

The move, if it crystalises, will entail huge expenditure as the administration would have to be cut into four. As one journalist put it, "it is madness multiplied by four".

The fear is that Andhra Pradesh is setting a bad example and such precedents tend to travel fast. Tomorrow, a state like Uttar Pradesh may opt for more capitals. Given its size and spread, it may require 20 capitals.

Or worse, in the next election if Jagan loses and whoever comes to power overturns this move, what happens to all the investments made?

Jagan already created a flutter by having five deputy chief ministers, something unheard of in the annals of Indian political history.

Four capitals, five deputy chief ministers are all fine if there is adequate governance. However, that seems to be stuck on the number zero.

As of now, the only thing the Jagan administration has achieved is, well, give Tughluq's regime a better name.   

That, sure, takes some doing!