NEW DELHI: In an extraordinary step, the Lok Sabha today suspended eight Congress members from Telangana region for four days for repeatedly causing disruptions over separate statehood issue.
The action was taken against Ponnam Prabhakar, Madhu Yaskhi Goud, M Jagannath, K R G Reddy, G Viveknanda, Balram Naik, Sukender Reddy Gutha and S Rajaiah after Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal moved a motion seeking their suspension.
The motion was carried by a voice vote after Francisco Sardinha, who was in the Chair, warned them of action if they failed to go to their seats.
Moments after the House reassembled after two adjournments, the eight members stormed the well holding posters supporting a separate state and chanting slogans like "we want Telangana".
They staged a sit-in in the Well forcing half-an-hour adjournment of the House. As they continued to sit in even after the House reassembled, Sardinha adjourned the House for the day at 2.30 pm.
This is perhaps for the first time in several years that members of the ruling party have been suspended from either House of Parliament.
The action came soon after a meeting of the Congress top brass including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi deliberated on the matter.
Congress in Andhra Pradesh has been badly divided on regional lines with members from Telangana region in the forefront of the demand for a separate state.
While TRS, agitating for the cause of a separate Telangana, as also TDP, have some members from Telangana, they were not seen in the House today.
Earlier in the day, Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee held parleys with Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj and some other opposition leaders including Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), Sharad Yadav (JD-U) and Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI).
While the action against the eight was taken on the first day of second phase of the Budget session today, they had been constantly disrupting the proceedings of the lower house for several days in the first phase of the session which had ended on March 30.
Undeterred by the action, the suspended members staged a dharna in the House, forcing its adjournment for the day as some opposition leaders expressed themselves against use of marshals for evicting them.
The Telangana MPs said they had not resorted to any indiscipline as what they were demanding was fulfillment of the poll promise made by the Congress.
Before the House met for the day, the MPs had staged a dharna in front of the main gate of Parliament House.
The action came soon after senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh and Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI) expressed dismay over the failure of the ruling party to control its members on the Telangana issue.
The Congress proposal appeared to be to suspend the members for the remaining part of the Budget session, but it did not find favour with the CPI which suggested that there should be a token punishment for only four days. This was supported by SP, JD-U and AIADMK and later the BJP.