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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Kharge forced to cut short budget speech

HT Correspondent and Agencies, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 12, 2014
First Published: 20:40 IST(12/2/2014) | Last Updated: 20:45 IST(12/2/2014)

The raging uproar over creation of Telangana peaked in Parliament on Wednesday, prompting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to say his heart "bleeds over such scenes" and forcing railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge to drastically curtail his budget speech.

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During the presentation of the interim rail budget, Andhra Pradesh parliamentarians on the two sides of the divide, shouting slogans and waving placards, turned the Well of the House into a battleground.

Four Union ministers from Seemandhra opposing the division of the state – KS Rao, D Purandeshwari, Chiranjeevi and K Surya Prakash Reddy – were in the Well, while human resource development minister Pallam Raju and Kruparani Killi supported them by standing in their seats.

Alertness of some members averted an ugly situation, as M Jagannath (Cong) and N Sivaprasad (TDP) moved aggressively towards each other. Sivaprasad had torn up some papers concerning the Telangana bill, which left Jagannath fuming.

YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy also joined the protesting Seemandhra MPs in the Well. A placard thrown by one of the agitating members landed on a desk behind which Congress President Sonia Gandhi and parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath were seated.

Kharge's 14-minute speech was drowned in the din and he laid the budget speech on the table, a gesture that means it should be deemed as read. This is possibly the first time a railway minister has been forced into such a situation.

The Telangana issue has crippled Parliament for the past six days. The latest disruption evoked a sharp reaction from the PM.

"My heart bleeds to see what is happening in the House. It is sad for democracy that such things are happening even after all appeals for calm," Singh said.

But in an open defiance, Raju termed the PM's disapproval "unfair". The minister, who hails from Seemandhra, insisted the bill for bifurcation of the state is "absolute injustice" in its current form.

The Congress, which has been facing internal dissent over the division, on Tuesday expelled six Lok Sabha members who had moved a no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, senior leaders LK Advani, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, who were invited to lunch by the PM to end the Parliament impasse, are learnt to have told him to spell out the package it plans for Seemandhra region in the bill itself.

Seemandhra, comprising Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra, is will remain of Andhra Pradesh after Telangana is carved out of it.

Quoting sources, PTI reported, the BJP leaders informed Singh their stand on Telangana has not changed and asked the government to "put its own house in order" as several Congress MPs too were responsible for disruptions.


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