New Delhi: Under fire for his pepper spray attack in Lok Sabha during introduction of Telangana bill, Seemandhra MP Lagadapati Rajagopal on Thursday defended his actions, saying he did it in self-defence.
Rajagopal, who was suspended from the Lok Sabha by Speaker Meira Kumar, also demanded similar action against Congress MPs alleging they had 'pounced' on him and TDP member Venugopal Reddy.
"I went to rescue TDP MP M. Venugopala Reddy who was targeted by Congress MPs while protesting in the Well of the House. I immediately rushed from the other side to protect him. They started attacking me. So immediately as a self defence, I used the pepper spray," Rajagopal told reporters outside Parliament House.
Flanked by Congress MP Anantha Vekatarami Reddy and his colleagues from Seemandhra region, Rajagopal said he always carries a pepper spray can as he was 'under great threat from these forces' - a reference to pro-Telangana protesters - and he used it as a self protection.
Asked whether he felt that use of such a 'hazardous' thing in the House was right when there are senior members who have asthma and respiratory problems, Rajagopal said, "Pepper spray is a defencive thing which women are using when they are under attack. Here I had been under attack."
"I don't want to use any lethal weapons. I am a person who never has any security. So I felt that like women are protecting themselves, let me also have something ... because I know how these divisive forces, how they created ruckus on many occasions, so I always carry that in my pocket and I used it the moment they started attacking," he said.
"In fact they did not attack me. They were attacking one of the TDP members.... I had to go and rescue him. When they started attacking me, I used it as a self-defence," he said.
Asked whether he felt that the incident was unfortunate, Rajagopal, who was expelled from the Congress alongwith five other Seemandhra MPs for pressing for non-confidence motion against UPA Government, said, "Congress Party talks about democracy" but is indulging in blame game 'without following any democratic practices'.
On his suspension from the House, he said, "they should suspend the entire Congress lords who have pounced on us....
"It is not only Andhra Pradesh MPs, Congress MPs from various states..Speaker should suspend all the Congress MPs who came to the Well."
It was a mic, not a knife: TDP MP
Meanwhile, TDP MP Venugopal Reddy, who was involved in a fracas over Telangana bill in the Lok Sabha today, termed as a "lie" the allegation that he was carrying a knife inside the House and claimed that he was assaulted by 10 members.
"I was not carrying a knife inside the House. This is a lie being spread by the Government. I was holding a mike which may have looked like a knife," Reddy told reporters outside Parliament.
The TDP MP said, "this is a black day in the history of Parliament. I was opposing the introduction of the Telangana bill in the House when these things happened".
"They wanted to forcibly introduce the Bill.... Meanwhile I pulled the mike in front of the secretary general. It was the only instrument I had in my hand. I have been falsely implicated by Sushilkumar Shinde, Kamal Nath," he said.
Reddy alleged that 10 MPs had beaten him up as 'they want to kill me politically and physically. The Congress MPs became marshals today'.
He alleged that the MPs who attacked him in the House included Raj Babbar, Poonam Prabhakar Rao, Manik Sarkar, Anjan Kumar Yadav, Vijay Shanti and Nama Nageshwar Rao. Reddy along with other TDP members was also seen shouting slogans against Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh while he was leaving Parliament House complex after the developments in Lok Sabha.
'I have never seen such an incident'
Holding the government responsible for the 'disgraceful' and 'unforgivable' pepper spray incident in Lok Sabha, MPs Thursday demanded stern action against those involved.
"I have never seen this type of incident during my time in Lok Sabha. The government is responsible for the incident. This is disgraceful, unforgivable," senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh told reporters outside Parliament.
BJP leader Sumitra Mahajan, who was seen coming out of the House with a handkerchief wrapped around her face, also blamed the government for the bedlam.
"The government is insensitive to the matter...there is heightened tension in Andhra Pradesh and I think the government realises this," she said.
"Why is the government not solving the issue through talks? I have never seen such a situation during my stint in Parliament," she said.
Describing the incident as 'undemocratic', JD-U chief Sharad Yadav branded the spraying of pepper as 'treason' and demanded strong action against those involved, saying all rules and laws "are in the hands of Parliament".
"The incident cannot be described in words...it cannot be forgotten so easily," he said after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"The spraying incident happened when I was there to protect the MPs. I stood there and feared for the health of the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Secretary General," he said.
Hitting out at the government for the pandemonium in the House, he said it has 'destroyed' the entire session and 'demolished the democratic system' in its attempt to pass the Telengana Bill.
Next: Demand for screening of MPs in Parliament
Demand for screening of MPs in Parliament
New Delhi: After the unprecedented pandemonium marked by fisticuffs, pepper spraying and breaking of mike in Lok Sabha over Telangana issue, several MPs cutting across party lines on Thursday advocated a screening system for representatives of people at Parliament gate.
Congress MP Sukhinder Reddy said, "There should be a system to prevent MPs carrying these kinds of materials into the House."
Describing the incidents in Lok Sabha as 'unfortunate', he said, "Government has been changed without bloodshed. Violent method should not be applied in a democracy. This is not good for democracy."
JMM MP Kameswar Baitha said a system like frisking of MPs before entering Parliament should be in place to stop these violent incidents in the House.
"Temple of democracy was polluted because of this and the guilty should be punished," he said. Congress leader Bhakta Charan Das went a step ahead and said this is "terrorist-type" of behaviour and insult to democracy.
"Screening of MPs before entering Parliament is necessary after the incident. Some system should be in place at the entrance to screen the MPs," the Odisha Congress MP said.
Terming the incident as 'disgusting', SP MP Jaya Bachchan said the issue of screening MPs needs to be discussed....