5:32 am - Thursday May 30, 2024

Despite protests, Centre to push Telangana Bill in Parliament

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New Delhi –  On a day when Indian democracy touched a new low when an MP from Andhra Pradesh opposed to Telangana used pepper spray in the Lok Sabha, triggering unprecedented clashes and suspension of 16 MPs for creating chaos in Parliament, the Centre on Thursday warned that the bill to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh will be introduced under all circumstances.

The announcement was made by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath who said that the Telangana Bill will be introduced in the Lok Sabha under all circumstances despite protests and uproar over bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.

The bill is facing much resistance not only from the opposition parties, but even within the Congress, which proposed the bill.

A leader of Congress party, Satyavrat Chaturvedi, said that people were creating a commotion just to obstruct the proceedings and not for any definitive purpose.

“Now we have to see those people who creating obstructions. They say something else and do something else. It will be clear from that which leader or party has what role in the house,” said Chaturvedi.

The reactions from the Parliamentary Affairs Minister and Congress party came hours after Lagadapati Rajagopal, one of six MPs expelled from the Congress this week, was assaulted by fellow parliamentarians and taken out of the house by marshals after he sprayed the pungent pepper at startled parliamentarians to vent his anger over the decision to carve out Telangana state.

Also Read: Pandemonium in Lok Sabha over Telangana, Speaker calls it ‘blot’

In what turned out to be another tumultuous day in Parliament over Telangana, MPs came to blows, a mike was ripped out, glass shattered and a computer was smashed.

Both Speaker Meira Kumar and leaders of political parties described the turmoil as a blot on Indian democracy. Janata Dal-United’s Sharad Yadav branded Rajagopal’s conduct as sedition.

“This is an attack on our democracy and it is nothing short of sedition,” said Yadav, who was in the Lok Sabha when Rajagopal did the unthinkable. “If the strongest action is not taken, it will be difficult for Parliament to run.”

Rajagopal’s frenzy sent scores of MPs and Lok Sabha officials – and journalists in the media gallery – running for cover, coughing violently and with a burning sensation in their eyes.

A pungent odour enveloped the house, adding to the chaos caused by the unending sloganeering and disruptions since morning.

Amid the commotion, the UPA 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. But the BJP and some others contested this claim.

TDP member M. Venugopala, who too is against Andhra Pradesh’s break up, wrenched the speaker’s microphone. He refused to apologize for the behaviour.

“No, I didn’t do anything wrong,” the agitated MP said. “I was protesting. How dare they break up Andhra Pradesh?”

Sixteen Lok Sabha MPs were late suspended for five days. They included five of the Congress, four of the TDP, two of the YSR Congress including its leader Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy as well as five expelled by the Congress this week.

The Lok Sabha did meet again but there was no normalcy. Andhra Pradesh MPs again walked towards the speaker shouting slogans, joined by Tamil Nadu members equally angry over the attacks on their fishermen by the Sri Lanka Navy.

Amid the renewed chaos, an Andhra MP collapsed and was rushed to hospital.

If all this wasn’t enough, supporters and opponents of Telangana fought with one another outside the house, leaving an unspecified number injured.

The Rajya Sabha, which too witnessed noisy disturbances, was adjourned for the day. And so was the Lok Sabha.

In the upper house, Congress member K.V.P. Ramachandra Rao and TDP’s Y.S. Chowdhary and C.M. Ramesh stood in front of the chairman’s podium holding placards that demanded a “United Andhra Pradesh!”

TDP’s Gundu Sudha Rani and some Congress leaders in turn flashed a placard seeking Telangana. The Lok Sabha developments drew widespread condemnation.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said Thursday’s ruckus “is a big blot on our parliamentary democracy… It is a very shameful act”.

LS Speaker Meira Kumar said, “Our democracy is admired throughout the world. What has happened today is a blot.”

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde promised “strict action” against the MPs.

Rajagopal and other MPs from the Seemandhra region are bitterly opposed to the division of Andhra Pradesh. They have been staging noisy protests in the Lok Sabha right from the day it convened Feb 5, leaving both houses crippled day after day.

The BJP and the CPI-M blamed the Congress for the chaos, saying it was not unable to rein in its own ministers and MPs.

BJP leader L.K. Advani, one of India’s most experienced parliamentarians, described the events as “disgraceful”.

There will be no Parliament session Friday on account of a holiday.

The Union Cabinet recently cleared the bill for bifurcating Andhra Pradesh to create a separate Telangana state, with 10 districts.

The proposal was received with mixed emotions across the state, with various politicians starkly opposing the bifurcation.

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