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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

Pepper spray leaves stain on Indian democracy: MPs

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 13, 2014
First Published: 16:51 IST(13/2/2014) | Last Updated: 21:54 IST(13/2/2014)

The unprecedented violence inside Lok Sabha on Thursday after the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2013 to create a separate Telangana state was tabled was condemned by politicians across party lines.

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After the Telangana bill was tabled, expelled Congress MP L Rajagopal used pepper spray in the House, leading to chaos after which some MPs came to blows. Rajagopal had to be rescued by watch and ward staff after he was attacked by other members.

Telegu Desam Party MP Venugopal Reddy reportedly brandished a knife inside the House, an action he denied later saying it was just a microphone.

Read: Telangana bill tabled in Lok Sabha; MP uses pepper spray, Speaker suspends 18 lawmakers

Speaker Meira Kumar condemned the incident and said it has "shamed" Indian democracy.

"Our parliamentary democracy is admired throughout the world. Today what has happened is a blot (on democracy)," she told reporters.

Kumar who consulted leaders from different parties about the action to be taken against the offenders after which 17 parliamentarians were suspended for the violence.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, strongly condemned the violent act by the lawmakers, and said that it has disgraced the entire parliamentary system, democracy and the Cabinet.

"We have requested to take an action against it. Parliamentary system does not allow for such violence that we have seen today. In my 33 years of parliamentary life, I feel ashamed that such

an incident has taken place. Members tried to gas the house. It is really unfortunate, the chaos and attempted violence is a blot on Indian democracy," he said.

"I will recommend the strongest possible action. It is for the Speaker to decide what steps are to be taken."

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

Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said that the ruckus was a part of the "design" of the Congress party.

"Whatever happened today crossed all limits. It is not only unfortunate but shameful and Congress is responsible for it," Sushma Swaraj told reporters after the incident.

"I feel it was a part of the design. Government wanted ruckus..."

She questioned whether the bill was even formally introduced in the House, saying it did not happen as long as she was in the house.

"Because until I was in the House, they had not even read an 'I' of introduction. I was in the House for a long time. I wanted to sit even after they used the spray, but marshals told me the gas can be harmful and I should leave. I don't know when the Speaker came, when the bill was introduced," she said.

Full Coverage: Telangana, the troubled state

BJP leader LK Advani described the unprecedented disruptions in Parliament as "disgraceful".

"The government is going ahead with the controversial (Telangana) bill by suspending MPs. This is clearly not the way of running parliament," he said.

"It is an unprecedented and a disgraceful situation," said BJP's Jaswant Singh.

Telagana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhar Rao demanded strong action against the MPs involved in the melee inside the House.

"Today the entire country has come to know why we, the Telangana people, want to be separated. Their (MPs') behaviour was for the entire country to see," he said.

YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy questioned the way the Telangana bill was introduced in Los Sabha saying he will move court.

Some even called for screening of the members of Parliament before they enter Parliament so that such incidents can be prevented in the future.

Read: 'MPs should introspect over functioning of House'

Congress MP Sukhinder Reddy said, "There should be a system to prevent MPs carrying these kinds of materials into the House."

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MP Kameswar Baitha also said that system like frisking of MPs should be in place to stop these violent incidents in the House.

Congress leader Bhakta Charan Das went a step ahead and said it was a "terrorist-type" behaviour and an insult to democracy.

"Screening of MPs before entering Parliament is necessary after the incident. Some system should be in place at the entrance to screen the MPs," the Odisha Congress MP said.

Terming the incident as "disgusting", Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan said the issue of screening MPs needs to be discussed.

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