In incidents unprecedented in the annals of the Andhra Pradesh Legislature, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and Telugu Desam Party members tried to manhandle Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan after snatching away his microphone and the papers from which he was addressing a joint session of the Assembly and the Council on Thursday.
Minutes after he condemned their undemocratic behaviour, TRS leaders assaulted Lok Satta MLA Jayaprakash Narayan at the media point outside. They also roughed up senior Congress leader and MLC Paladugu Venkata Rao, who, like Dr. Narayan, is a votary of a united Andhra Pradesh.
The ornate hall in the Old Assembly building, the venue of the joint session, echoed with vociferous protests by TRS MLAs, with vocal, and la
ter physical, support from TDP members. Soon after the Governor entered the hall through a door other than the designated one, which was blocked by TDP MLAs, TRS members started shouting, ‘Governor, go back.'
After a brief respite for the national anthem, they resumed shouting when Mr. Narasimhan started reading out his speech in Telugu. Initially, they hurled shredded pieces of copies of the speech and their pink-coloured stoles. Later, T. Harish Rao, nephew of TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao, went to the podium and violently pulled away the lectern — the microphones, the speech copies and all. Surrounded by marshals, Mr. Narasimhan resumed his address using a hand-held microphone and switched to English, skipping portions of his 38-page speech.
Mr. Harish Rao and another member climbed on the table and tried to lunge towards the podium, but marshals restrained them.
Meanwhile, TDP MLAs Revanth Reddy and Mahender Reddy went behind the podium, toppling the heavy chairs of the Governor, Council Chairman A. Chakrapani and Deputy Speaker Nadendla Manohar, besides throwing plastic chairs meant for officials. The bedlam ended 14 minutes later, when Mr. Narsimhan, refusing to buckle under the pressure, concluded his speech and left.
Party floor leaders immediately rushed to the media point to give their reaction. Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan condemned the TRS leaders' behaviour, saying such incidents might lead to suspension of the Assembly, and eventually to imposition of President's Rule.
TRS MLAs were standing nearby, awaiting their turn to speak. One of them, D. Vinay Bhaskar, landed a blow on Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan and was joined by the driver of TRS floor leader E. Rajender. Later, they set upon senior Congress leader and MLC P. Venkata Rao. Parties across the political spectrum condemned the assault.
Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy called on the Governor at the Raj Bhavan and tendered an unconditional apology. The TDP refrained from passing comments as its own MLAs were involved in the fracas. Significantly, the day's events overshadowed the non-cooperation movement in Telangana and the absence of more than 25 Congress MLAs who are camping in Delhi.