New Delhi: As I walked in to get into the press gallery of Lok Sabha, I was stopped by Parliament security personnel to see if I was carrying any harmful substance. It was not the usual practice but today was different.
Today, everybody in Parliament was on edge. One of the Seemandhra MPs, opposed to the creation of Telangana, had threatened to set himself on fire inside the Lok Sabha.
After some back and forth, the government decided to introduce the bill at 12 noon. And everyone expected trouble.
Everything looked calm as MPs exchanged pleasantries. Predictable faces had come to the well of the House to protest and support Telangana.
I saw TDP MP Venugopal, who had snatched a pen yesterday from a Parliament official inside the Lok Sabha, moving towards the left side of the Speaker's chair. He was well-built and I thought to myself that if he were to carry out a misadventure, it would not be easy for his colleagues to control him. He stopped just in front Sushma Swaraj's seat.
On the other side, just in front of Sharad Pawar and Kamal Nath's seats, Telangana MPs were stationed. I saw G S Vivek and Jaganathan waiting expectantly.
Just as the clock struck 12 and the Speaker walked in, Venugopal moved menacingly to the Lok Sabha Secretary General's chair.
The official was not there, but Venugopal pulled out the mic from his desk.
Suddenly, there was a loud noise and when I looked towards my right, I saw the glass cover of an electronic gadget - to count division of votes - smashed.
Jagan Reddy moved into the well of the House. And as the Home Minister moved the Telangana bill, I saw L Rajagopal, an expelled Congress MP, taking a spray and indiscriminately spraying it inside the Lok Sabha. Ponnam Prabhakar moved behind and tried to control him.
Parliament security moved in and advised members to leave the House as none knew what the substance was. Some were coughing, others still trying to figure out what happened.
Within a few minutes, most MPs including Rahul Gandhi left Lok Sabha. I rushed out of the gallery to speak to MPs who were leaving. As Rahul was waiting for his car at Gate no 4, we, a group of journalists, tried to ask him what he thought. He avoided an answer as he boarded his Tata Safari. But another distinguished parliamentarian, Jaswant Singh, described it all in just one word: disgrace.
First Published: February 13, 2014 14:04 IST