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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Govt was warned of trouble, but pepper spray sprang a surprise

Aloke Tikku/Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 13, 2014
First Published: 16:16 IST(13/2/2014) | Last Updated: 17:27 IST(13/2/2014)
The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the Centre was tipped-off about Seemandhra parliamentarians' plans to disrupt proceedings in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, but Congress MP L Rajagopal resorting to spraying pepper took UPA leaders by surprise. 
 
"We didn't expect pepper spray, but there was fear that the ministers or the Speaker would be physically prevented from assuming their chairs or introducing the (Telangana) bill," a UPA leader said.
 
He added armed with the tip-off, around a dozen parliamentarians had formed a ring around Speaker Meira Kumar's chair and senior ministers, including home minister Sushilkumar Shinde (who introduced the Telangana bill) and finance minister P Chidambaram, to avoid any untoward incident.
 
A senior Union minister, however, said the government had braced for more trouble.

Full Coverage: Telangana, the troubled state
 
"We had expected worse... there was apprehension that some people may try to physically harm the senior ministers or the Speaker," said the minister, privy to the UPA's plans to introduce the bill.
 
While some accused Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MP Venugopal Reddy of brandishing a knife, the parliamentarian vehemently denied the charges.
 
Reddy said he was holding a part of the microphone yanked off during the scuffle in the Lower House.
 
"The government and the Speaker are free to examine the footage from the security cameras inside the House... They are trying to kill me... politically," the TDP member said.
 
There were also apprehensions that some Seemandhra MPs might try to occupy the Speaker's chair, and throw papers, pens and other items at the UPA ministers. But, the government's floor managers were on alert.
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