New Delhi: An Andhra Pradesh MP expelled from the Congress for opposing Telangana's formation Thursday shocked the nation when he used pepper spray during another tumultous day in the Lok Sabha.
The first of its kind act in parliament sent scores of MPs and Lok Sabha officials -- and even some journalists in the media gallery -- running for cover, coughing violently and with a burning sensation in eyes.
As Vijayawada MP Lagadapati Rajagopal was quickly overpowered by fellow MPs and marshals, a pungent odour enveloped the lower house, adding to the chaos caused by sloganeering since morning.
But amid the commotion, the government managed to introduce a bill that would pave the way to carve out a Telangana state out of Andhra Pradesh -- precisely the issue over which Rajagopal was protesting.
TDP member M. Venugopala, who too is against a break up of Andhra Pradesh, broke the speaker's microphone. Amid the pandemonium, which has crippled parliament every day since it convened Feb 5, the house was adjourned till 2 p.m.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde promised "strict action" against the MPs. "We will take strict action," he said, adding that the Telangana bill had been introduced "and it is now the property of parliament".
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said Thursday's ruckus "is a big blot on our parliamentary democracy". "Many party leaders have requested me to ask the speaker to take strict action against the MPs... It is a very shameful act."
Kamal Nath said he had been told -- but he did not see it for himself -- that a knife too had been smuggled into the house. It all began when Shinde rose to table the Telangana bill at noon.
In no time, Rajagopal, who had brought the pepper spray with him, used it in the house. At least three MPs were taken to hospital while others quickly trooped out of the house. Doctors were called to treat some of the MPs.
Rajagopal was later led away by security personnel. The pepper spray was not the only act of defiance Thursday. Rajagopal is among the six MPs from Seemandhra region of Andhra Pradesh who were expelled from the Congress Tuesday.
The expelled MPs have said their goal was to stall the tabling of the Telangana bill in parliament.
Rajagopal and other Congress MPs -- Sabbam Hari, G.V. Harsha Kumar, V. Arun Kumar, R. Sambasiva Rao and A. Sai Pratap -- had stunned the Congress by tabling no-confidence motion notice against the UPA government.