Lok Sabha events were no acts of impulse

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 23, 2017

Sabbam Hari

Careful planning and implementation were in play

To graduate from crude farce to the equivalent of classical drama, one has apparently to prepare for months. In the case of pepper-spraying Vijayawada MP L Rajagopal, it reportedly took two years to perfect the histrionics he exhibited in Parliament on Thursday in an attempt to block the Telangana Bill.

MPs close to Rajagopal say he had been carrying the can of pepper spray for the last two years. The explanation for walking around with it was simple enough — he claimed he had started getting threats from pro-Telangana outfits. He needed something handy for self-defence. And he had told his fellow MPs that he was going to use it in Parliament if the Telangana Bill was introduced.

Besides conveniently having the spray in hand, Rajagopal and other MPs from Seemandhra were aided in their efforts by their comrade, Sabbam Hari. Hari, the expelled Congress MP from Anakappalli, had announced that he would “kill himself” if the Telangana Bill is introduced in the Lok Sabha.

The Seemandhra group knew that the staff responsible for security in the innermost sanctum of Parliament would look out for Hari. The Treasury benches had lined up about half a dozen marshals and enough MPs to keep Hari off the Speaker’s chair. They were also prepared to block any effort, however symbolic, towards self-destruction.

No fistfights, please

So, while the marshals watched Hari, Rajagopal managed to smuggle in his pepper spray. Just as the Speaker arrived, he and his partners — GV Harsha Kumar, V Arun Kumar and an assortment of MPs from the TDP — stormed towards the Chair. Rajagopal claims he fired the spray only when MPs Aaroon Rasheed and Ponnam Prabhakar tried to block him.

“I had to do something in self-defence. I did not want to use tactics like engaging in a fistfight. I used the spray when I saw a colleague from a different party being manhandled,” Rajagopal says.

According to the suicidal MP, who quickly recovered once the pandemonium had been staged, the Congress floor managers bore the sole responsibility for the chaos in the House.

“We have been protesting from day one. Who will protest other than the Andhra Pradesh MPs? But we do not understand one thing. Who gives RPN Singh, Aaroon Rasheed, Raj Babbar, Ponnam Prabhakar and other Congress MPs the right to beat up their colleagues in this manner? No one is justifying Rajagopal, but what he did was to protect himself and other MPs from the State,” says Hari.

Impartial probe

He claims they have demanded an “impartial probe” by the Speaker’s office. “The video clips of the incident should be made available to media. They will clear the air,” he says.

Such protestations aside, several MPs told Business Line that they had information that “something dramatic” was being planned for the day. Some MPs even recorded the whole drama on their cell phones and tablets. Later in the evening, they sent these clips to various media houses.

The farce had been staged and duly recorded.

Published on February 14, 2014

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