The Lok Sabha was adjourned for 20 minutes on Tuesday after MPs from Kerala disrupted proceedings over the move to bifurcate the state's Palakkad railway division.
The MPs, who staged a sit in protest at the main entrance of Parliament house before the proceedings commenced, wanted to raise the issue after the house met at 11 am. They wanted question hour to be dispensed with.
Nineteen of the state's 20 MPs - the bulk of them from the Left parties - stood up to make the demand as the proceedings began but Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said they could raise the issue during zero hour.
"We have been waiting patiently so far but the railway ministry is going ahead with its bifurcation plan by reducing the importance of the existing division," complained NN Krishnadas of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) who represents Palakkad.
When the speaker insisted that the MPs take their seats and desist from disrupting the proceedings, Krishnadas was heard saying: "We MPs from Kerala have not disrupted the house even for a second so far, but the railway ministry is neglecting us and ignoring our pleas."
An angry speaker, looking at CPI-M leader in the Lok Sabha Basudev Acharya, retorted: "I don't expect such unruly behaviour from your MPs."
"I am ashamed of you," he added, this time addressing the Kerala MPs.
Railway Minister Lalu Prasad walked into the house, and the speaker immediately said: "I will not allow even the minister to speak."
Unable to stop the protests, Chatterjee adjourned the house from 11.10 am till 11.30 am.
At one stage during their protest, however, the Kerala MPs resumed their seats when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stood up to introduce newly inducted Minister of State for Home Radhika Selvi.
After the adjournment, Kerala MPs walked across to ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and were heard saying: "The prime minister had promised us that the issue would be taken forward only after consultations (between the chief ministers of Kerala and Tamil Nadu)."
The bifurcation of the Palakkad division is the brainchild of Minister of State for Railways R Velu, who wants to create a new Salem division in his home state of Tamil Nadu.
The MPs from Kerala, who have been meeting Manmohan Singh and Gandhi on the issue, have often said that they don't have anything against the creation of a Salem division but don't want the Palakkad division to be downgraded.