MPs shame India, use pepper spray in Lok Sabha over Telangana

MPs shame India, use pepper spray in Lok Sabha over Telangana

NEW DELHI: All hell broke loose inside the Lok Sabha on Thursday when an expelled Congress MP from Andhra Pradesh used pepper spray to disrupt proceedings in Lok Sabha soon after the Telangana Bill was tabled. As soon as the bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, two sets of MPs - for and against Telangana - rushed to the Well of the House.

Lagadapati Rajagopal, a member of parliament from Andhra Pradesh who was recently suspended by the ruling Congress party and who opposes creation of the new state, then unleashed the pepper spray.

Shouting protesters also broke a glass table and snapped the wire of an official's microphone.

The furor erupted after Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde rose to table a bill for the creation of Telangana to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh.

The first of its kind act in parliament sent scores of MPs and Lok Sabha officials -- and even some journalists in the media gallery -- running for cover, coughing violently and with a burning sensation in eyes.

As Vijayawada MP Lagadapati Rajagopal was quickly overpowered by fellow MPs and marshals, a pungent odour enveloped the lower house, adding to the chaos caused by sloganeering since morning.

The suspended MP defended himself saying that he used the pepper spray in self defence as he was attacked by other MPs when he went to rescue TDP MP M Venugopala Reddy who was targeted by Congress MPs.

But amid the commotion, the government managed to introduce a bill that would pave the way to carve out a Telangana state out of Andhra Pradesh -- precisely the issue over which Rajagopal was protesting.

TDP member M Venugopala, who too is against a break up of Andhra Pradesh, broke the speaker's microphone.

"The incidents which took place in the house are a big blot on our democracy," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath told reporters.

"Parliamentary democracy provides for dissent but does not provide for the kind of disruption and attempted violence which we saw today. I feel ashamed that such an incident has taken place."

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said that the incident was a blot on democracy and also suspended 17 Lok Sabha MPs for protesting when the Telangana bill was introduced in parliament.

The suspended MPs are from the Congress, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the YSR Congress and those expelled from the Congress earlier this week.

They are Anantha Venkatarami Reddy, S.P.Y. Reddy, Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy, Suresh Kumar Shetkar, K.R.G. Reddy and Gutha Sukender Reddy (all Congress), Nimmala Krishtappa, Modugula Venugopala Reddy, Konakalla Naryana Rao and Niramalli Sivaprasad (all TPD) and Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and M. Rajamohan Reddy (YSR Congress).

Meira Kumar also suspended five of the MPs expelled by the Congress earlier this week. They are: V. Aruna Kumar, L. Rajagopal, R.S. Rao, A. Sai Prathap and Sabbam Hari.

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said appropriate action would be taken against the concerned MPs, while adding that the Telangana Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha, and is now the property of the parliament.

Terming the incident as shameful, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said: 'What happened in Parliament today is not only unfortunate but also shameful, Congress is solely responsible for this. Seems all this was part of the gameplan,they wanted MPs to leave in a hurry so that they could introduce the Telangana Bill.'

Veteran BJP leader also lashed out at the erring MPs saying, 'the incident was completely disgraceful. In a chaotic situation like this, only thing they (Govt) should do is have a vote on account. I have been in Parliament since 1970 but have never seen such actions by MPs.'