mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
India's Spicy Politics
Indian MP Pepper Sprays Colleague

A riot broke out in the Indian parliament on Thursday as politicians literally fought over the creation of India’s newest state, Telangana.

An MP brought and used pepper spray, causing pandemonium and prompting the House Speaker to suspend 17 MPs. Following the incident, there were bizarre images of MPs being dragged out of Parliament by the police, gasping for breath with handkerchiefs on their eyes. The Guardian has the report:

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.

The 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.

The fate of Telangana still hangs in the balance. Following the chaos, the opposition, including the BJP argued that technically the bill wasn’t introduced, while Congress maintains that it was. The BJP isn’t necessarily against the bill; it’s just trying to embarrass Congress as much as it can by dragging out the last session of the Lok Sabha (India’s lower house) so that the house won’t get round to vote on a bill that may be Congress’s last legislative attempt to win some votes before the elections this spring.

The truth is that the Congress central leadership went ahead with Telangana without taking into account the divisions, especially within Congress Party, in the state legislature. The Telangana bill was actually voted down in Andhra Pradesh, the state from which Telangana would eventually be carved out, but Congress introduced the bill in New Delhi anyway. It doesn’t come as a surprise, then, that it was a Congress MP who used the pepper spray on other Congress MPs for apparently being “manhandled.” Calling it a party in disarray would be an understatement.

Congress’s Hindenberg-like trajectory makes it all the more likely that we’ll be seeing Narendra Modi in office this summer, and the America’s recent overtures to him give the impression that the U.S. government thinks so too.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Corlyss

    The Taiwanese Parliament model is going viral. I always look forward to reports of the free-swinging Taiwanese Parliament sessions – more entertaining that most TV. I wonder if we could get a live feed from the Indian parliament like we get a live feed of the British Question Time . . . ?

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service