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It's a bad day for democracy: Narasimhan

S. Nagesh Kumar

Though the Governor came prepared to face commotion, the ugly turn of events took all by surprise

HYDERABAD: Though his aides described it as “almost an attempt to assault him,” Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan feels that the outrage in the Assembly on Thursday represented a bad day for democracy.

Mr. Narasimhan looked unperturbed when Telangana Rashtrya Samithi MLA T. Harish Rao, nephew of party president K. Chandrasekhar Rao, snatched the mike and the papers from him. The Governor sported a wry smile, tugging back at the papers so that he could continue his address to the joint session of the Assembly and the Council.

Yet, informed sources said, the Governor dreaded the prospect of MLAs hurling the plastic chairs near the dais either at him or Council Chairman A. Chakrapani or Deputy Speaker Nadendla Manohar. Some MLAs pulled the chairs of the three dignitaries, forcing them to stand, while the Governor resumed his speech with a hand-held microphone. Mr. Chakrapani sustained an injury on the foot when a chair fell on him.

Mr. Narasimhan was quoted as saying that on the flip side, he derived satisfaction from completing his speech, though he skipped several pages, concluding it with ‘Jai Hind.' Had he abandoned his speech mid-way and left the House, his action would have been viewed as having yielded to the pressure of the mischief-makers.

Sources in the Raj Bhavan said the Governor came prepared to face commotion, but the ugly turn of events took all by surprise, especially when the tall and well-built Mr. Harish Rao led the charge. What again shocked the Governor's aides was the action of Telugu Desam Party MLAs Revanth Reddy and Mahender Reddy, who climbed the podium, going behind Mr. Narasimhan and creating a ruckus.

People who called on the Governor left with the impression that Mr. Narasimhan was not too unhappy with the arrangements of the Legislature Secretariat to provide him security. However, adequate security was not in place to prevent the mischief, given the TRS' belligerence in the recent past and its MLAs calling the Governor names only on Wednesday.

Mr. Narasimhan reportedly asked the government to release uncensored versions of the proceedings to television channels so that the people themselves could judge the MLAs' undemocratic action. “All political parties must sit up, take note of these happenings and decide what they should do,” the Governor was quoted as saying.

The incident was akin to the outrage in the Assembly on March 16, 1998, when the then Governor, C. Rangarajan, was delivering his opening address. Led by P. Janardhan Reddy, Congress members hurled papers and even a book at Dr. Rangarajan, who was deeply upset by the happenings. The then Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, apologised to him.

Then, Congress leaders contended that Mr. Naidu had no moral right to remain in office since the TDP was rejected by the people in the Lok Sabha elections, which he himself had termed a referendum.

On Thursday, Mr. Naidu did not comment on the happenings in the Assembly.

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