India’s media condemned the lawmakers’ behaviour as “revolting” and a “disgrace to democracy” after mayhem erupted on Thursday over the bill to carve a new state out of existing Andhra Pradesh.
“Pepper spray in House leaves Indian democracy in tears” screamed the Times of India front-page headline on Friday, while the Hindustan Times called the chaos “a complete breakdown of parliamentary conduct”.
“Even for a country with a long and unedifying history of parliamentary pandemonium, nothing can be as shameful and disgraceful as the use of pepper spray by a member on his peers to disrupt proceedings,” the Hindu newspaper said in an editorial. …
… Suspended Congress lawmaker L. Rajagopal who used pepper spray inside the Lok Sabha Thursday said he took the step in “self-defence”. ”I used pepper spray in self-defence. I rushed to the well only when a Seemandhra MP was attacked,” Rajagopal told reporters referring to Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MP Venugopal Reddy.
Lagadapati Rajagopal, the Lok Sabha member from Vijaywada, released the pepper spray towards fellow members after Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde tabled the Telangana bill at noon. Rajagopal was quickly overpowered by fellow MPs and marshals.
The strong, pungent odour triggered coughing among the parliamentarians who rushed out of the house. Doctors were called and three MPs were taken to hospital. ”Even the non-Andhra MPs of the Congress were in well, they were attacking us,” Rajagopal alleged.
He was among six MPs from Seemandhra who were expelled from the Congress Tuesday. Rajagopal is among the richest MPs from Andhra Pradesh, with Rs.300 crore to his name, according to his affidavit to the election commission in 2009.
Meanwhile, Reddy, who was involved in a fracas over the Telangana bill and was accused of bringing a knife to the house, termed the allegations a lie. ”I was not carrying a knife inside the house. This is a lie being spread by the government. I was holding a mike which may have looked like a knife,” Reddy told reporters outside parliament.
The TDP MP called it a “black day in the history of parliament”. ”I was opposing the introduction of the Telangana bill in the house when these things happened. They wanted to forcibly introduce the bill,” he said. ”I pulled the mike in front of the secretary general. It was the only instrument I had in my hand. I have been falsely implicated by Sushilkumar Shinde and Kamal Nath,” he said.
Reddy alleged that 10 MPs – including Raj Babbar, Ponnam Prabhakar, Anjan Kumar Yadav, Vijaya Shanthi and Nama Nageshwar Rao – beat him up. ”They want to kill me politically and physically. The Congress MPs became marshals today”. …
Why aren’t the oldest countries also the happiest, most enlightened, best behaved, most prosperous and the best organized?