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Tempers run high, parliament disrupted again over Telangana

Posted on Feb 12 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, Feb 12 : Both houses of parliament were disrupted for the sixth successive day Wednesday following noisy disruptions over the Telangana issue, with two MPs almost coming to blows in the Lok Sabha.

Both houses witnessed ugly scenes. In Lok Sabha, two parliamentarians nearly came to blows, as copies of official papers were torn and thrown in the air.

The Rajya Sabha also saw an AIADMK MP tearing official papers over the issue of Tamil fishermen, while others stationed near the chairman's podium protested the proposed formation of Telangana.

There was chaos during the presentation of the interim rail budget in the Lok Sabha that forced Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge to cut short his speech.

The space near the speaker's podium resembled a battle ground as members both favouring and opposing Telangana state shouted slogans and showed placards during the presentation of the interim rail budget.

The ruckus began soon after the house met at noon after an hour-long adjournment earlier due to noisy scenes over the Telanagana issue.

M. Jagannath of the Congress and N. Sivaprasad of the Telugu Desam Party nearly came to blows, but the clash was averted when other leaders, including Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal-United, Saugata Roy of the Trinamool Congress and Jagadambika Pal of the Congress intervened.

Four union ministers from Seemandhra - K.S. Rao, D. Purandeshwari, Chiranjeevi and K. Surya Prakash Reddy - also trooped near the speaker's podium demanding a united Andhra Pradesh.

Ministers M. Pallam Raju and Kruparani Killi also supported them by standing in their seats.

Members from AIADMK and Trinamool Congress also protested discrimination against their states - Tamil Nadu and West Bengal respectively - in the rail budget.

While Kharge was presenting the budget, some Seemandhra members carrying placards hailing a united Andhra Pradesh walked near the treasury benches where Sonia Gandhi, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath were seated and threw a placard in their direction, which landed on their desk.

The placard was swiftly removed by Kamal Nath. Sonia Gandhi remained calm and did not react to the incident.

At the end of Kharge's rail budget speech, some parliamentarians tore the official papers and threw them in the air.

The Lok Sabha was later adjourned for the day, making it the sixth straight day of disruptions over the Telangana issue.

The Rajya Sabha also witnessed disruptions over Telangana and other issues.

The house was first adjourned till noon, then till 2 p.m. before finally being adjourned for the day.

A lone member from the Congress, along with members from the Telugu Desam Party, AIADMK, DMK, and Left parties went near the chairman's podium.

While the Congress and TDP members opposed formation of Telangana, the DMK and AIADMK raised the issue of the plight of Tamil fishermen.

Left leaders raised the issue of atrocities against women in West Bengal.

AIADMK member V. Maitreyan kept tearing copies of the Rajya Sabha bulletin, which records the summary of the previous day's proceedings.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed his frustration over the constant disruptions.

"My heart bleeds to see what is happening in the house," Manmohan Singh told MPs in the Lok Sabha, according to sources.

"It is sad for democracy that such things are happening after all the appeals for calm," he said after the ugly scenes in Lok Sabha during the presentation of the Railway budget.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said it was the responsibility of all MPs to ensure smooth running of the houses.

"It is not the duty of the government. It is the duty of all the members of the house... the house is not to be controlled by the government, it is to be controlled by the speaker and the members," Kamal Nath said.

In a bid to take forward the bill for formation of Telangana which has to be introduced in the Lok Sabha, the prime minister also met key Bharatiya Janata Party leaders over lunch.

The BJP leaders, according to sources, said they were not opposed to the bill, but wanted concerns of both sides to be addressed.

Union minister M.M. Pallam Raju, who is from the group of Andhra MPs against the formation of Telangana, said that as people's representatives it was the job of the MPs to protest against this decision of the government.

"People are aggrieved. They expect us, the representatives, to protest on their behalf. What happened in parliament is unfortunate but a sense of injustice prevails," Raju said.

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