Parliament plunged into extraordinary chaos on Thursday as mutinous MPs from Andhra Pradesh fired pepper spray, broke glass tops and came to blows when the contentious Telangana Bill was sought to be introduced.

As the day progressed, 17 MPs were suspended and three hospitalised while the ruling party and the Opposition made contrary claims about whether the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill to carve out a separate Telangana state had actually been introduced in the Lok Sabha.

Advance arrangements seemed to have been made against disruptions. Journalists were frisked. Notebooks were not allowed and even pens were scrutinised.

Before the Speaker’s arrival, the Congress had lined up a posse of MPs — Raj Babbar, Azharuddin and Lal Singh — near the Well, apparently to prevent disruptions. However, the expelled Congress MPs from Seemandhra had already taken up positions in the Well on one side of the centre table. Telugu Desam Party, Telangana Rashtra Samithi and YSR Congress MPs on the other side.

Pandemonium broke out at 12, when the Speaker’s arrival was announced. M Venugopal Reddy of the TDP started shouting, grabbed sheets of paper from the table, pulled out what looked like a mike and smashed it on the table, breaking the glass.

Plumbing new depths Fisticuffs ensued. Expelled Congress MP from Seemandhra and former Lanco Infratech chief L Rajagopal rushed to the other side of the table, pulled out a yellowish bottle from his pocket and started spraying. Within seconds, Ministers and MPs were seen coughing and scurrying out of the House with watery eyes. Some elderly MPs even stumbled and fell.

Nothing could be heard in the din and near-stampede that followed. In a blink-and-miss moment, Speaker Meira Kumar asked Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde to introduce the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2013. The House was adjourned in a matter of moments while Shinde and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath trooped out to announce that the “Bill has been introduced”.

The Opposition questioned the claim. Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj asserted that it had not been introduced. “…Until I was in the House, they had not even read an ‘I’ of introduction. I was in the House for a long time. I don’t know when the Speaker came and when the Bill was introduced,” she said.

Later, Kamal Nath accused TDP MP Venugopal Reddy of inciting violence by “pulling out a knife”. Denying this, Reddy said a “story had been cooked up by Jairam Ramesh and Kamal Nath. TV footage will show the truth.”

“I have been an MP since 1973. I have never seen this kind of behaviour. The Government should now just get the Vote on Account passed and forget about anything else,” said BJP leader LK Advani.