New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS) Belying expectations of a peaceful budget session, some ruling Congress MPs from Andhra Pradesh Monday created an uproar on the first day of the nearly two-month-long parliament sitting by raising slogans and flashing placards demanding that a separate Telangana state be carved out of the southern state.
About a dozen protesting MPs rose from their seats and shouted slogans to disrupt President Pratibha Patil’s speech to a joint sitting of both houses of parliament.
The contentious issue led to disruptions in both houses of parliament in the past following which the government formed a committee to look into the matter. The issue returned to haunt the house on the first day of the budget session.
Patil’s 45-minute address to the joint sitting of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha was heard with rapt attention by nearly 530 MPs. But as she was about to conclude, some Congress members flashed pro-Telangana placards and shouted “Jai Telangana” and “We want Telangana”.
They got back to their seats as soon as the president concluded the speech.
When the president left the Central Hall of parliament, the protesting MPs again displayed the placards.
The Congress MPs led by K. Keshav Rao later staged a sit-in near Mahatama Gandhi’s statue within the Parliament House premises to protest against the president making no mention of Telangana in her speech.
Rao said they wanted a wider discussion on formation of the new state. “We want a widespread discussion on the formation of the state. We have full faith in Congress president Sonia Gandhi,” Rao told reporters.
Asked if the protest was against their party, Rao said that it was only as part of democratic practices and they were trying to attract attention to the issue. “If you know what democracy is, there is nothing wrong in this protest. We wanted to bring the issue to notice. More than 240 people have died there (Andhra Pradesh) so far,” he said.
“The process for separate state has already begun but certain differences needed to be sorted out,” Rao added, asserting that it was the Congress which has initiated the process.