Special Correspondent

Sripadsagar project tenders rock Assembly again

HYDERABAD: In move with few precedents, 62 members belonging to Opposition TDP, CPI (M), CPI, TRS and MIM were suspended from the Assembly for two days on Monday after a furore over the alleged Rs. 400-crore scam in the Sripadasagar irrigation project tenders.

The issue rocked the House for the third consecutive day with a united Opposition stalling the proceedings and demanding placement of the files relating to the tenders before Speaker K. R. Suresh Reddy. Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy and Legislative Affairs Minister K. Rosaiah rejected the demand saying they could as well get all the information by making an application under the Right to Information Act.

As soon as proceedings began, the Speaker disallowed the adjournment motions tabled by the CPI and CPI (M) on "misuse of public money to the tune of Rs. 400 crore in Sripadasagar project following collusion between officials and contractors." Members of the two Left parties and the TDP stood up demanding an immediate debate. The Speaker explained that the Government was seized of the matter and it would get back to the House with details in a day or two. With the Opposition unrelenting, the Speaker adjourned the House.

When the House reassembled after two hours, opposition members again persisted with their demand, this time by holding placards, shouting slogans and rushing to the podium. There were counterslogans from treasury benches. The Legislative Affairs Minister moved a motion for the suspension of 62 members, including floor leaders of the TRS, CPI, CPI (M) and MIM barring Leader of the Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu. Marshals were called to remove some members. G. Kishen Reddy of the BJP staged a walkout denouncing the Government's "dictatorial and adamant" stand. "It is a black day in democracy," he said. Raja Rao (BSP) followed suit.

YSR blames Opposition

Dr. Rajasekhara Reddy accused the Opposition of holding the House to ransom for three days and threatening the Chair. There was no truth in the Opposition charge of corruption since the cost escalation of Rs. 400 crore was due increase in ayacut from 1.36 lakh acres to 2 lakh acres and raising the thickness of the steel plates. The Government was prepared for a debate, rectify the mistake, if any, and take action against the guilty.