Bedlam in Andhra assembly over special status issue

Hyderabad: There was utter bedlam in the Andhra Pradesh assembly on Friday as opposition legislators jostled with marshals near the speaker's podium and uprooted the mike. One of the television cameras near the podium was also damaged in the melee. The issue of special status to the state rocked the house for a second consecutive day as YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) legislators, demanding an immediate debate on the matter, trooped near the Speaker's podium. Wearing black shirts, holding placards and raising slogans to protest denial of special status to the state by the Centre, they encircled the Speaker's chair.  They also tried to prevent Speaker Kodela Sivaprasad Rao from conducting the proceedings. Amid the din, Legislative Affairs Minister Y. Ramakrishnudu said the government will make a statement on the issue and the debate could be taken up subsequently. The lone opposition party did not relent and insisted on a debate straightaway. There was high tension in the house as the legislators had reached close to the Speaker, who had to call in the marshals.  The security personnel of the assembly tried to keep the protesting MLAs away, leading to pushing and jostling. The Speaker repeatedly told the opposition members that they were making grave mistake by attacking the marshals. Amid the uproar, the Speaker adjourned the House for 10 minutes. When the House reassembled, the opposition further intensified its protest.  A couple of MLAs stood on benches near the Speaker's podium. Another group was seen again pushing and jostling with the marshals. One of the MLAs uprooted the mike in front of the Speaker and threw it away. With the situation slipping out of control, the Speaker again adjourned the house for 15 minutes. YSRCP members alleged that the marshals attacked them while leaders of ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and its alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the opposition of assaulting the marshals. YSRCP member Chevireddy Bhaskar Reddy said the opposition had every right to protest in the House. He said there was no question of keeping quiet as the central government has refused to give special status to the state. He alleged that TDP and BJP have betrayed the people of the state.