The Lok Sabha witnessed an unprecedented low on Thursday when Congress MP from Vijayawada L. Rajagopal used a can of pepper spray to protest against the tabling of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill.
Modugula Venugopala Reddy of the Telugu Desam Party broke the glass and microphone on the table of the Lok Sabha Secretary-General while Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde was introducing the Bill that seeks to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh.
Three MPs were rushed to hospital as they complained of uneasiness after inhaling pepper spray fumes, while another fainted on the floor of the House after he complained of chest pain.
Outside Parliament, the Opposition said proper procedures were not followed while tabling the Bill.
However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said the Bill had been tabled and was now the property of the House.
The House was adjourned in less than five minutes immediately after the Bill was tabled amid din and chaos.
When the House met again, Speaker Meira Kumar announced the suspension of 16 Seemandhra MPs — 12 belonging to the Congress, three from the TDP and two from the YSR Congress Party — under rule 374A of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha, but was adjourned for an hour within minutes as Mr. Venugopala Reddy broke the glass and Mr. Rajagopal used the pepper spray.
Mr. Reddy denied that he had a knife.
The suspended members have been barred from attending the proceedings “for five consecutive sittings or the remainder of the session, whichever is less.”
As Mr. Rajagopal was whisked away, the other members hurriedly left the premises, some of them coughing and complaining of irritation in the eyes and throat.
Later, Mr. Rajagopal claimed he had used the spray in “self-defence” as he saw Mr. Venugopala Reddy being attacked by Telangana MPs.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were not present in the House.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told journalists that by introducing the Bill in the Lok Sabha, the UPA had “bitten the bullet” on the formation of Telangana, pointing out that it was not an issue that could be “contained on political lines” as every party was divided on regional lines.
However, asked whether he believed that the law would be approved in this session, Mr. Singhvi responded, “That is a million dollar question.”
Blot on democracy: Speaker
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar described Thursday’s incidents in Parliament as a shame. “It is a blot on democracy. I will consult leaders for initiating action against those involved in the incident,” she said.