TDP MLA and actor Nandamuri Balakrishna kicked up a storm in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly on Thursday, 21 September, when he challenged YSRCP members, particularly Irrigation Minister A Rambabu, by twirling his moustache and slappping his thigh in a gesture challenging him for a confrontation.
Trouble broke out soon after the House met at 9 am, with the TDP members rushing to the Speaker and demanding that he immediately take up their adjournment motion on TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu’s arrest on 9 September.
TDP members demand debate
As Speaker Thammineni Sitaram disallowed their adjournment motion, TDP members rushed to his podium, holding placards, and demanding that the motion be allowed.
Meanwhile, YSRCP members said they were ready for a debate, adding that TDP members were only interested in creating unruly scenes as they had nothing substantial to base their arguments on, if a debate was allowed.
As soon as the House met after a break, the drama continued for some time, even though the government pushed ahead with Question Hour, with members were raising their questions and the ministers concerned trying to reply to them over the din.
All thorugh, the TDP members raised slogans while YSRCP members in the Assembly countered them with full-throated arguments from their seats.
Argument with Speaker
The TDP members who surrounded the Speaker’s chair entered into a heated argument with him for not allowing their adjournment motion and were trying to tell him how unjust and undemocratic Naidu’s arrest was.
According to them, there was no evidence of Naidu’s culpability in the “so-called scam”.
In a fit of emotion, some members threw the files on the Speaker’s table away, while others flung a water bottle placed there. As the TDP members were creating a pandemonium, the YSRCP members also began making menacing gestures.
In response, Balakrishna, looking at Rambabu and other YSRCP members, twirled his drooping moustache and taunted them to come for a showdown.
Angered by his gestures, Rambabu shot back at him, asking him to go back to the celluloid world and make an exhibition of his antics. He said Balakrishna’s unwarranted and uncouth gestures would not deter the YSRCP.
This led to further escalation of the tensions as the treasury benches tried to boo the Opposition down while the latter continued to drown the House in chaos.
Ramababu demands action
Rambabu repeatedly asked the Speaker to take action against the TDP members for surrounding him, and contended that there was a threat to his person from them.
He advised the Speaker to act immediately as the YSRCP members were also getting agitated and it might lead to a full-blown confrontation between the two sides. He said the gestures and the movements of the TDP members indicated that they were up to some serious mischief.
It was then that the Speaker issued a warning to the actor-politician for twirling his moustache while standing at the podium.
The Speaker said that it constituted a gross violation of the rules, procedures, and etiquette that governed the proceedings of the Assembly, but since it was Balakrishna’s first mistake, he was being let off. He warned Balakrishna against resorting to similar mischief in the future.
Suspends 15 MLAs
Acting on a resolution moved by Finance and Legislative Affairs Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy, the Speaker suspended 14 TDP members and one YSRCP legislator (who is now in the TDP camp after she was suspended by the party).
The TDP members are: K Atchen Naidu, N Balakrishna, B Ashok, A Bhavani, G Butchaiah Chowdary, N Chinarajappa, Ganababu, P Keshav, G Rammohan, N Ramanaidu, M Ramaraju, G Ravi Kumar, E Sambasiva Rao, D Bala Veeranjaneya Swamy.
The lone YSRCP member suspended is U Sridevi.
At the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) meeting held later, it was decided to hold the Assembly session for five days.
Balakrishna, later told media persons, that his gesture of twirling his moustache was only a reaction to Rambabu who was the first to twirl his moustache at him.
“Ambati Rambabu had insulted my profession which is like my mother,” he said, reiterating that Chandrababu Naidu was sent to jail on trumped-up charges.
It was part of YSRCP’s political vendetta against Naidu as there was a shift of public opinion in favour of TDP now, he said.