|Indian lawmaker expelled for pepper spray attack, wild brawl erupts over state bill
India's parliament erupted in chaos today over a bill to create a new state, with angry lawmakers coming to blows, pulling out a microphone and pepper-spraying the chamber.
Local media reported today that 18 lawmakers including L. Rajagopal, who used pepper spray, were later suspended.
Holding banners and shouting slogans, lawmakers disrupted the lower house of parliament as the Congress-led government introduced the contentious bill to carve a new state out of Andhra Pradesh, AFP reports.
Legislators opposed to the new state of Telangana tried to rip out the speaker's microphone while one unleashed a can of capsicum spray, prompting a rush for the exit, TV channels reported.
Several lawmakers climbed into ambulances suffering breathing problems.
Small fights also flared between MPs opposed to the bill and several trying to stop the chaos and restore order, as the parliament was adjourned, the Press Trust of India said.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath slammed it as a “big blot on our parliamentary democracy'' and called for the strongest possible action against the offending MPs.
“It is the most shameful day in our parliamentary history,'' Nath said.
Seventeen MPs were suspended from the house over the unrest. Lawmakers ripped up official papers and smashed a glass. Others wore black blindfolds, PTI said.
In the confusion one MP from Andhra Pradesh, who opposes Telangana, was accused of brandishing a knife in the chamber, a claim he denied.
“I pulled the microphone in front of my seat, not a knife. Why apologise? I will not apologize,'' Venugopal Reddy shouted at an NDTV reporter.
Cabinet last week approved the creation of Telangana from the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, after a decades-long and sometimes violent campaign.
Security at parliament had been high before the bill's introduction after one MP threatened to set himself on fire.
Observers say the Congress government moved on Telangana in hopes of winning much-needed votes in the region at national elections in coming months.