Pepper spray used in Indian Parliament; 3 MPs hospitalised, 18 suspended

New Delhi: In a new low in India’s parliamentary history, pepper spray was used in the Lok Sabha resulting in hospitalisation of three MPs following a ruckus over introduction of the Telangana bill after which 18 seemandhra MPs were suspended.
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar expressed anguish over the incidents saying it has “shamed the country and Parliament and called it a “blot”.
Unprecedented pandemonium broke out in the House when expelled Congress member L Rajagopal, an industrialist and opposed to the division of Andhra Pradesh, brought a canister from which he sprayed pepper.
Three MPs–Vinay Kumar Pande, Ponnam Prabhakar and Balram Nai–suffered from suffocation, irritation in their eyes and heavy coughing following which they were taken to nearby Government Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital for treatment. They were later discharged.
Many other MPs were seen coming out of the House with watery eyes and were feeling suffocated. Ambulances were pressed into service.
Another anti-Telangana member Venugopal Reddy (TDP) broke the mike of the House Secretary General and a computer screen was broken in the “well” as members from either side of the divide came to blows when Shinde stood up to introduce the bill for reorganisation of Andhra Pradesh.
Rajya Sabha also witnessed Uproarious scenes with members staging protests in the Well over Telangana statehood issue and a TDP member trying to snatch the mike of the Chair.
In the ruckus over the issue, TDP MP CM Ramesh tried to uproot the mike from the podium, the Chair adjourned the House till afternoon and finally for the day till Monday. The seemandhra MPs, protesting against creation of Telangana, sought to stall introduction of the bill for which Home Minister Sushil Kumar later claimed has been tabled but was disputed by BJP and other opposition parties.
The unprecedented action of the protesting MPs triggered all round denunciation with the Speaker saying “It has shamed us, shamed us. India’s parliamentary democracy is respected throughout the world. Today what has happened is a blot.”
The Well of the Lok Sabha turned into a battle ground as fisticuffs broke out between members from Seemandhra and others, including Raj Babbar, Azharuddin, Lal Singh (all Cong) and Saugata Roy (TMC), who wanted to prevent disruptions in the House.
After damaging the mike, Reddy (TDP) snatched papers from the Speaker’s podium, while Rajagopal broke the glass on the table and used the pepper spray.
In the afternoon, Meira Kumar cracked the whip and suspended 18 MPs, who are against division of Andhra Pradesh, for rest of the session following the scenes of pandemonium.
Kumar announced the decision soon after the House met at 2 PM when she named the members. “Government has claimed that the Bill has been introduced, but we do not accept,” Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj told reporters after the meeting with the Speaker.
“I was sitting in the House even after the spray incident and wanted to stay inside till I was advised by marshals to leave as it could cause harm to my health. As long as I was inside the House, not even an ‘I’ of the Bill was read. I don’t know when was the bill introduced,” she said.
Other party leaders, who accompanied Swaraj, said they do not accept the introduction of Telangana bill.
YSR Congress chief Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy was the first to raise questions over the introduction of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill.
He said it was a “mockery” to say that the bill has been introduced as the whole thing was over in ten seconds and there were no ‘ayes’ and ‘noes’.
Reddy, whose party is staunchly opposed to the division of Andhra Pradesh, said they would move court in the matter.
But TRS chief K Chandrashekhar Rao insisted that the bill has been introduced as rules followed.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who introduced the Bill, said it is now “the property of the House”.—PTI

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