Hyderabad: The Congress game-plan to disrupt Governor ESL Narasimhan’s joint address to the Telangana State Legislature on Monday not only went awry but also backfired on them when party legislator Komatireddy Venkat Reddy hurled a headphone that hit Legislative Council Chairman K Swamy Goud in the right eye. Goud was taken to the Sarojini Devi Eye Hospital where doctors have kept him under observation for 24 hours.
That the main Opposition was determined to disrupt and get suspended in the process was evident when placard-wielding, slogan-shouting Congress members were up on their feet in less than five minutes into the Governor’s address. A multi-layered human barricade of Assembly marshals, however, prevented them from entering the well of the House, and frustration set in.
Even as an unfazed Narasimhan continued with his address, Venkat Reddy was seen in live footage of the proceedings picking up the headphone and hurling it in the direction of the podium in an unprecedented display of unruly behaviour. The headphone, aimed at the Governor by Venkat Reddy’s own admission, missed the target and hit Swamy Goud.
What is appalling is that the Congress legislator, immediately after throwing the headphone, gesticulates to TPCC president N Uttam Kumar Reddy and the two, all smiles, carry on a conversation. In a second similar incident, Venkat Reddy again picks up a headphone from the desk, climbs on to the seat, hurls it in the direction of the podium and ducks down presumably to avoid identification, all these in a matter of few seconds. He is again seen in an animated conversation, this time with a laughing Mohammad Ali Shabbir, Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council.
The Assembly officials, who had prior information about the intentions of the Congress members, deployed large number of marshals near the Opposition benches ready to move into position at the first sign of trouble. Irked by this, senior Congress legislators T Jeevan Reddy and Rammohan Reddy attempted to push aside the marshals, even as other members, including Venkat Reddy, DK Aruna and A Sampath Kumar, started tearing up the copies of the Governor’s speech and threw them at the Chair.
It was at this point that Venkat Reddy hurled the headphone. It hit the wall behind the Governor’s chair and fell next to Swamy Goud who rose to his feet to protect the Governor from any injury. “Another headphone was flung from the Opposition benches just before the national anthem was rendered to mark the conclusion of the joint sitting. Unfortunately, I suffered an eye injury this time,” the Council Chairman told mediapersons at Sarojini Devi Eye Hospital.
The session was adjourned for the day and Swamy Goud was initially examined by the duty doctor in the Assembly before being rushed to SD Eye Hospital for better diagnosis and treatment. Legislators from TRS, MIM, BJP and others visited the Council Chairman at the hospital where he has been kept under observation for 24 hours to ascertain that no damage occurred to his eye. Goud felt that though the legislators have right to protest, they cannot resort to physical attacks.
Tough action sought
Taking serious exception to the ‘rowdyism’ of Congress members in the House, the ruling TRS members demanded action against Venkat Reddy. They termed Monday as a ‘Black Day’ in the history of Telangana State Legislature and took up the issue in the Business Advisory Committee meeting in the afternoon. They also alleged that some Congress members were drunk. Speaker S Madhusudana Chary is likely to take action on the unruly incidents inside the House on Tuesday.
Though Congress floor leader in the Assembly K Jana Reddy expressed his regret over the unruly behaviour of his fellow members, Congress leader in the Council Mohammed Ali Shabbir defended Venkat Reddy. But Venkat Reddy who flung the headphones said he was only targeting the Governor as the government did not allow them to protest and the headphones unfortunately hit the Council Chairman. However, the Congress changed its stance later terming the incident as a conspiracy by the ruling TRS to keep them away from the Assembly. They alleged that the Chairman was not hurt in the incident.
Interestingly, the entire episode turned out to be a Catch-22 situation for the Congress leaders who wanted themselves to be suspended from the Assembly by disrupting the proceedings and then making an issue out of it across the State using the ongoing bus yatra. TRS legislators said that Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao was aware of the Congress’ intentions to disrupt the Governor’s speech, and asked the treasury benches to maintain restraint. Venkat Reddy and a couple of legislators who were impulsive are likely to face disciplinary action.