Right after the Telangana Bill was produced in today's Lok Sabha session, suspended Congress MP from Vijaywada, L Rajagopal, who was standing in the well of the house, took out a canister of pepper spray and sprayed it all around the house, leading to the adjournment of the house.
Four MPs were taken away in an ambulance for immediate medical attention following the pepper spray attack. It is not known why this has happened. Among the injured are the pepper spray wielder, L Rajagopal himself.
So who is L Rajagopal?
Rajagopal is a a mechanical engineer who was formerly the head of Lanco Infratech.
According to the company's website, he was inducted into the company in 1985 and took the company from the construction business into allied industries linked to infrastructure development.
Rajagopal married the daughter of a Congress leader P Upendra in the early nineties.
In 2002, he quit as the Chief of Lanco only to enter public life and contest on a Congress ticket.
Rajagopal is the the richest MP from the state with assets of Rs 299 crore along with his wife (according to his declaration filed with the Election Commission before 2009 polls).
According to a Rediff report: "Hailing from the politically powerful Kamma community, Rajagopal took advantage of all the factors -- from caste to the cash -- to emerge politically stronger. After winning Vijaywada seat for the first time in 2004, he managed to retain it for the second term, despite strong anti-Congress feeling prevailing in the region."
According to the same report, Rajagopal's political detractors have pointed out that the MP has vested interests in ensuring that Telangana is not created. Rajagopal has massive investments in Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana, which will be at risk if Telangana is made a separate state.
Rajagopal was yesterday expelled from the Congress - along with five other MPs - for opposing creation of Telangana and giving notice of no-confidence motion against the government.
These MPs from the Seemandhra region, the residuary state after Telangana is carved out of Andhra Pradesh, had been disrupting the House protesting the bill since the second half of the winter session started on 5 February.
The Vijayawada MP had been openly against the formation of Telangana, and has been protesting against it for the past few years. He had criticised the party high command for not heeding the views of Seemandhra leaders on the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, but said he had advised Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy not to quit until the Parliament session ended.
"Unfortunately, the Congress high command did not listen to feelings of Union ministers from Seemandhra, of Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, state ministers, PCC president, MPs and MLAs," Rajagopal had said.
A few years ago, Rajagopal was one of the first leaders to take up the flagship of the anti-Telangana movement. After P Chidambaram's announcement that the Centre was initiating the process for the formation of Telangana state, Rajagopal was the first MP to send in his resignation.
According to a New Indian Expressreport, Rajagopal had threatened to play"kabbadi" in Parliament if the Telangana issue was raised.
Before today's proceedings, Rajagopal was asked by CNN-IBN what he would do if the Telangana bill was introduced. He replied, "You will see."
Published Date: Feb 13, 2014 01:10 pm | Updated Date: Feb 13, 2014 05:04 pm