India’s parliament erupted in chaos on Thursday over a bill to create a new state, as angry MPs came to blows and pulled out a microphone and one pepper-sprayed the chamber.
Holding banners and shouting slogans, lawmakers disrupted the lower house of parliament as the Congress-led government introduced the contentious bill to carve a new state out of the existing Andhra Pradesh.
Legislators opposed to the new state of Telangana tried to rip out the speaker’s microphone while one unleashed a can of capsicum spray, prompting a rush for the exit, TV channels reported.
Several lawmakers climbed into ambulances suffering breathing problems before reportedly being taken to hospital.
Small fights also flared between MPs opposed to the bill and several trying to stop the chaos and restore order, as the parliament — known for its disruptions — was adjourned, the Press Trust of India (PTI) said.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath slammed the unrest as a “big blot on our parliamentary democracy” and called for the strongest possible action against the offending MPs.
“It is the most shameful day in our parliamentary history,” Nath told reporters outside parliament.
Seventeen MPs were suspended from the house over the behaviour, which also saw lawmakers rip up official papers and smash a glass. Others wore black blindfolds as a sign of protest, PTI said.
In the confusion one MP from Andhra Pradesh, who opposes Telangana, was accused of brandishing a knife in the chamber, a claim he denied.
“I pulled the microphone in front of my seat, not a knife. Why apologise? I will not apologise,” Venugopal Reddy shouted at an NDTV reporter.
– Pepper spray used in ‘self defence’ –
L. Rajagopal was equally defiant over firing the pepper spray, saying he used the can in self-defence after other MPs “pounced” on him.
“They started attacking me. So immediately as a self-defence, I used the pepper spray,” Rajagopal told reporters.
Cabinet last week approved the creation of Telangana from the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, after a decades-long and sometimes violent campaign.
Mainly tribal groups have demanded Telangana be carved out of a northern, impoverished and drought-prone part of Andhra Pradesh, which supporters say has long been neglected by successive state governments.
But wealthier regions of Andhra Pradesh, home to IT giants including Google and Microsoft in its capital Hyderabad, have strongly opposed the split because they say it would create economic upheaval.
Security at parliament had been high before the bill’s introduction after one MP threatened to set himself on fire in protest.
Observers say the Congress government moved on Telangana in hopes of winning much-needed votes in the region at national elections in coming months. But they have warned the move may backfire amid an intensifying political battle in Andhra Pradesh.
Violent demonstrations have erupted there since Congress announced the move last July, while three federal ministers have resigned in protest.
Outside parliament on Thursday, ugly clashes broke out between supporters of the Telangana state and police, an AFP photographer said.
Police dragged away protesters and bundled them into buses.
Congress has denied trying to seek any political advantage from splitting Andhra Pradesh, insisting it is trying to fulfil a longstanding pledge.
‘Stand with Hong Kong’ shirts fill the stands at Nets game as NBA is protested for China subservience
The National Basketball Association was protested on Friday for bowing to pressure from China.
The NBA has been harshly criticized for standing by the oppressive regime instead of standing in solidarity with the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
"Producer and activist Andrew Duncan bought 300 tickets to tonight's Nets vs Raptors game and is hosting hundreds of Chinese pro-Democracy activists to protest the NBA," New York magazine correspondent Yashar Ali reported Friday. "They're all wearing 'Stand With Hong Kong' T-shirts."
Photos from the protest:
1. Producer and activist Andrew Duncan bought 300 tickets to tonight's Nets vs Raptors game and is hosting hundreds of Chinese pro-Democracy activists to protest the NBA.
Trump polling close friends over whether he should fire Mulvaney: report
President Donald Trump is considering firing Mick Mulvaney, his acting White House chief of staff and director of the Office of Management and Budget, The Atlantic reported Friday.
"Mick Mulvaney's job was in danger even before his disastrous press conference yesterday, and his equally disastrous attempt to walk that performance back," The Atlantic reported. "The fumble could not have been more poorly timed: According to multiple current and former White House officials, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to relay private conversations, Trump has been steadily souring on Mulvaney for weeks."
Michael Moore predicts Mick Mulvaney will get into Heaven after confessing Trump’s quid pro quo
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore predicted acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney will ascend to Heaven in the afterlife during a Friday interview on MSNBC's "The Beat" with Ari Melber.
The host played a clip of Mulvaney admitting Trump's quid pro quo while seeking foreign election assistance from Ukraine.
"This man obviously is going to be admitted into Heaven," Moore said. "You know, he told the truth."
"If there was a movie version of this, somebody stuck him with a needle just before he walked out onto the stage there, a truth serum needle, and he just went on and on saying, 'Yeah, that’s what we do. Yeah, of course.' Essentially admitting there is a quid pro quo. In fact, there are many quid pro quos."