In yet another low in Parliament, a Samajwadi Party member stunned the Lok Sabha by snatching the copy of the bill for quota in promotion from Minister V Narayanasamy and another tearing it as a scuffle broke out when Congress chief Sonia Gandhi tried to retrieve the Bill.
The action of SP member Yashvir Singh, a dalit, triggered commotion and scuffle between members of his party and the Congress, who threw a protective ring around Gandhi in the Well of the House.
The incident triggered a war of words outside between the Congress and its outside ally Samajwadi Party, which is strongly opposed to reservation in promotion for SCs and STs in government jobs.
However, unfazed by the protest from an isolated SP, the third of its kind in Parliament, government pledged to move the bill for consideration in the House tomorrow.
A verbal spat followed between the Congress and SP member and a shocked Speaker Meira Kumar abruptly adjourned the House for the day.
Hell broke loose as Narayanasamy rose to move the Constitution (117th Amendment) Bill for consideration of the House. The Bill had been passed by the Rajya Sabha on Monday.
Singh came from aisle on the extreme left side of the House and took away the Bill from Narayanasamy.
As a dazed minister watched in shock, Gandhi got up from her front row seat to grab the bill from Singh.
"I was taken aback," Narayanasamy said later.
Singh represents Uttar Pradesh's Nagina constituency, which is reserved for the Scheduled Castes. Incidentally, the Bill seeks to provide reservation to SCs/STs in promotion in government jobs.
Gandhi's swift move caught Singh unawares and he leaned back and flung the Bill to his colleague Neeraj Shekhar, who was in the Well. Shekhar tore the copy of the Bill and threw it in the Well.
The raised hand gesture of Singh angered Congress members and Vilas Muttemwar, K Bapi Raju and Kantilal Bhuria among others moved towards Gandhi and threw a protective ring around her.
In the melee, there was some pushing around of SP members by the agitated Congress leaders leading to a minor scuffle.
Amid the din, Speaker Meira Kumar abruptly adjourned the House for the day.
SP members were heard accusing Muttemwar of assaulting Singh as a Congress leader took the Nagpur member away from the scene.
In order to calm the tempers in the surcharged House, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath walked up to SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav who was surrounded by his party colleagues including Singh.
Congress members also sought to reach out to the BJP in the wake of incident but not to much success.
Samajwadi Party has been isolated on its opposition to the Bill which will ensure quota in promotion in government jobs for SC/ST employees.
BSP supremo Mayawati, an arch detractor of Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh politics, has been seeking to take credit for the passage of the bill in the Rajya Sabha.
Snatching and tearing of a bill from a minister's hand took place for the first in 1997 when a member of the ruling United Front coalition snatched the women's reservation bill from the then Prime Minister in the Lok Sabha. The second was also in similar circumstances in the Rajya Sabha last year when the Lokpal Bill was taken up.