HYDERABAD: Confrontation between the main Opposition Telugu Desam and Speaker, N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, over restrictions on media came to a boil in the Assembly on Tuesday.
As the Telugu Desam members pressed their adjournment motion and demanded a discussion on the restrictions “that were reminiscent of Emergency”, the Speaker ordered the suspension of 43 of them for a day on Tuesday.
Marshals had to be summoned to remove the unyielding TDP members. The action then shifted to the Speaker’s chambers where they staged a marathon sit-in for five hours. They kept up a chant of slogans criticising the “dictatorial attitude of the Speaker and the Chief Minister”.
They asserted that the restrictions were not only on media but aimed at stifling the voice of the Opposition MLAs and their right to speech. After the adjournment of the House, Leader of the Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu, CPI and CPI (M) floor leaders, G. Mallesh and J. Ranga Reddy and TDP members held locked chains and ropes symbolising restrictions.
Trouble broke out at the beginning of the question hour as the Speaker announced rejection of the adjournment notices given by the TDP and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti on the issue.
The notices amounted to questioning the Chair, he said but added they could raise it during a debate on the functioning of the House later. But the TDP members raised slogans prompting the Speaker to comment that the main Opposition party was pressuring him.
Legislative Affairs Minister K. Rosaiah intervened to charge the TDP members with ‘blackmailing’ the Chair. Senior TDP member P. Ashok Gajapati Raju quoting Assembly rules said the Speaker was not allowing the members to express their views.
As the unruly TDP members continued to stall the proceedings, Mr. Rosaiah moved a motion seeking their suspension for three days. But the Speaker modified it to a day. The TDP legislators then stormed into the well of the House. The live telecast of the proceedings went off air as the marshals entered the House to evict the suspended members.
The TRS, CPI, CPI (M), Praja Rajyam leaders termed the suspension unfortunate and urged the Speaker to revoke it and invite the floor leaders to discuss media restrictions. Refuting the Opposition charges, the Speaker maintained that the restrictions were imposed to ensure better functioning of the House.