An embarrassed prime minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday watched helplessly from their seats, as their ministers jumped into the well of Lok Sabha, by joining MPs, protesting against division of Andhra Pradesh during presentation of the railway budget. In an unprecedented show of defiance, even after the Congress expelled six MPs for pressing their no-confidence motion on the issue, ministers – Kavuru Sambasiva Rao, Chiranjeevi, D Purandeshwari and K Surya Prakash Reddy – trooped into the well of the House. Sonia could be heard asking "what is this" to Rao sloganeering next to her desk and he replied back: "Madam, we are doing it with a heavy heart."
Others ministers M Pallam Raju and Kruparani Killi were seen supporting them by standing in their seats. Since the government plans to introduce Telangana Bill in Lok Sabha on Thursday, the ministers joining the protests have now limited options before the government.
The prime minister vent his anger at this ministers disrupting the Parliament. "My heart bleeds to see what is happening in the House. It is sad for democracy that such things are happening even after all
appeals for calm," he told some MPs soon after the ruckus.
Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath too joined him to describe the disruption of railway minister's address as "unfortunate." He regretted that it was setting a bad precedent for the future.
Union minister for human resources Pallam Raju, who too hails from Seemandhra region, however, dubbed the PM's remarks as "not fair". He said the PM should instead understand the concerns of the agitating MPs who feel bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh to create Telangana was "absolute injustice" in the current form. He defended the ministers and MPs demonstrating in the Lok Sabha, saying they were putting up a "final battle" against the proposed bifurcation. He said Congress party was shooting at its both feet by indulging in the division of the state.
"I do not think the PM's comment is fair just to isolate what is happening today," he said, stressing that the manner in which some issues have been handled has not been right and there is widespread
perception that injustice is being done. "And, therefore that public pressure mounts on to the elected representatives and it is expected of us to put up a final battle in the House," he said. The supporters and opponents of Telangana in the well at one time came close to physical clash in the moment of heat but for alert Janta Dal(U) leader Sharad Yadav, Trinamul's Saugata Roy and Jagdambika Pal of Congress stopped M Jagannath (Cong) and N Sivaprasad (TDP) moving menacingly towards each other.
Meanwhile, Sabbam Hari, who is among six MPs expelled from the Congress for bringing a no-confidence motion, has threatened self-immolation in Lok Sabha if the Telangana Bill is tabled. Speaker Meira Kumar is understood to have directed the secretariat to close visitors gallery on Thursday, as intelligence reports suggested that some anti-Telangana activists may enter the gallery and indulge in self-immolation. There are 25 MPs from the Seemandhra region, including 18 from Congress, three from YSR Congress and four from the Telugu Desam Party.
Though, parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath said the Bill will be introduced in the Lok Sabha come what may, the suspense continues as its copies have not been circulated to MPs till late Wednesday night.
The Rajya Sabha secretariat had earlier refused to allow its introduction in the Upper House on the ground that it has to go to the Lok Sabha on account of the financial implications. The Lok Sabha
secretariat also wanted to know from the government, why Bill cannot be treated as the Constitution amendment legislation since Andhra Pradesh enjoys special status in the Constitution under Articles 371 and 371-D. The secretariat also wanted to know the fate of the Legislative Council in Andhra Pradesh as its division in two states can be done only through a Constitutional amendment.