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Telangana protest:one MP pulls out a knife, another with pepper spray in Parliament

One parliamentarian reportedly took out a knife in the Lok Sabha and another used pepper spray, triggering a severe coughing bout in unprecedented clashes in Parliament as the controversial bill to create Telangana by dividing Andhra Pradesh was introduced today.During clashes near the Lok Sabha speaker’s chair, TDP MP T Venugopal allegedly took out a knife, which had many MPs running.Congress MP L Rajgopal used pepper spray as two sets of MPs – for and against Telangana – rushed to the Well of the Lok Sabha and started fighting. The impact of the spray was so severe that a Parliament doctor was rushed in and the vast Lok Sabha had to be aired out.MPs are never frisked when they enter Parliament but today’s incident has spurred calls for a change in rules.”I was told there was gas, knives, other materials as well,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said later. Mr Rajgopal had also smashed a glass, while other protesting MPs flung a computer and pulled off a mic. “This government can’t bring the bill,” Mr Rajgopal had told this morning.He was one of the six MPs expelled by the Congress for moving a no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister over the Telangana plan. These MPs are from Seemandhra, the non-Telangana region that is vehemently opposed to the new state.”What happened is disgraceful, unprecedented, unforgivable,” said senior parliamentarian Jaswant Singh.

Since morning, unprecedented security had been in place and fire extinguishers and blankets had been kept ready in Parliament after Congress MP Sabbam Hari allegedly threatened to set himself afire.No visitors are being allowed in the Parliament House and even those entering the press galleries have been put through rare checks.Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met top ministers before Parliament began to discuss whether to bring the bill today, as the government anticipated trouble.There have been ugly and embarrassing clashes in Parliament since last week. “My heart bleeds to see what is happening in the House. This is bad for democracy,” said the Prime Minister yesterday, after two MPs nearly attacked each other before other lawmakers intervened.The BJP told the PM yesterday that the bill to create Telangana “cannot be passed in the din,” without a proper discussion.

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