In an unprecedented move, live telecast of Parliament proceedings was stopped as the Lok Sabha passed the controversial bill that seeks to create a Telangana state by dividing Andhra Pradesh.
The bill was passed unanimously, with the support of the main opposition BJP, but the party says it was not aware of the TV blackout.
Speaker Meira Kumar told that the telecast was stopped due to a problem. “There was a problem, so we couldn’t show the live telecast,” she said. Her staff said it was a technical problem. The remarks did nothing to end speculation about the controversial blackout.
The BJP’s Sushma Swaraj, who is the Leader of Opposition in the house, said she was not aware that the telecast had been stopped. The party, however, did not walk out of the house and stayed to pass the bill.
“It is daylight murder…the murder of democracy. The Speaker is acting as an agent of the Congress. More than 50% of the house is at the Well. They should have suspended the entire house and passed the bill,” said a TDP MP who was stopped from entering the house. All entrances to the visitors’ gallery were also shut.
The government distanced itself from the blackout. “Such things keep happening. I have been around for 40 years,” said Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who presented the bill for discussion amid protests in the morning.
The Left and the Trinamool reportedly protested inside Lok Sabha over the manner in which the bill is being taken up for passing. “Today democracy has been killed in spirit,” said Trinamool member Dinesh Trivedi.
Lagadapati Rajagopal, the expelled Congress MP who used pepper spray on fellow parliamentarians in the Lok Sabha last week, said he had decided to resign and quit politics.
Anti-Telangana politicians in Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh vowed to move petitions in the Supreme Court against the new state.They have also called a shutdown.
Celebrations erupted among pro-Telangana politicians in Delhi and Andhra Pradesh who cheered and distributed sweets, but those against the new state slammed the “undemocratic manner” of the bill’s passing.
Unusual security arrangements had been made for the Telengana bill discussion in Parliament after Mr. Rajagopal’s pepper spray act. Lawmakers had to walk to the Parliament building this morning with the main entrance blocked for vehicles. Their bags were checked and they were barred from filming videos or taking photos in the house. Riot police were deployed.
Politicians from the Seemandhra region of Andhra Pradesh, including Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, oppose the bifurcation; Seemandhra is worried about a smaller share of water, power and revenue from Telangana once the new state is created. The Chief Minister will resign tomorrow, say sources.