The Telegraph
Thursday , February 13 , 2014
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Cong MP sprays pepper in Lok Sabha, taking row over Telangana to new level

New Delhi, February 13 (PTI & Online Bureau): Congress member Lagadapati Rajagopal on Thursday used pepper spray indiscriminately inside the Lok Sabha, taking the battle over the Telangana Bill to an unprecedented level.

With several members getting into coughing fits after Rajagopal suddenly stood up and sprayed the pepper around him, Parliament’s doctor was called in. Even media persons in the gallery above the members seats were affected.

In the pandemonium, it was not clear immediately if the Bill to split Andhra Pradesh and create a new state of Telangana had at all been introduced, although Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde had gotten up to do so.

Lok Sabha officials later said the Bill had been tabled. The house was adjourned till 2pm.

Earlier in the day, the Lok Sabha well turned into a battleground as pro-Telangana and Seemandhra members clashed over the Bill.

Rajagopal, 49, represents Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. According to his profile on the Lok Sabha site, Rajagopal was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 2004 and is a mechanical engineer by training.

The government had already taken the President's nod for introduction of the Bill in the Lower House after initially planning to table the Bill in Rajya Sabha. Since any piece of legislation creating a new state has to be a Money Bill, it cannot be tabled first in the Upper House.

The Government decided to go ahead with the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh notwithstanding the state Assembly's rejection of the idea.

The Telangana issue has rocked both Houses of Parliament from February 5, the day the extended Winter session began.

On Wednesday, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge had to cut short his presentation of Railway Budget because of the turmoil created by Seemandhra MPs.

The Congress has already expelled six of its MPs for bringing a no-confidence motion against the United Progressive Alliance government on the Telangana issue.

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