A nation watched in horror as lawmakers uprooted mikes, threw chairs, stormed the speaker’s podium and tore his shirt in the Tamil Nadu assembly during the new chief minister’s trust vote last weekend.
Similar ugly scenes engulfed the Andhra Pradesh assembly in September 2016, as opposition legislators jostled with marshals near the speaker’s podium and ripped up the mike. For the record, pandemonium has become part and parcel of state assemblies and even Parliament.
The cue wasn’t lost on the architects and interior designers of the new Andhra Pradesh assembly at Velagapudi in Amaravati, the bifurcated state’s modern capital.
The august House is bedlam-proof — to a large extent.
Built by construction major Shapoorji and Pallonji, the assembly hall is kitted out with an ultramodern audio system from Germany. Unlike conventional microphones with a handle and a speaker, the rectangular mikes are fitted firmly on the members’ benches.
That makes these devices sound; impossible to uproot or even break.
“The microphones can catch the voice of a member even when he is standing. He does not need the hold the mike near his mouth,” an engineer told Hindustan Times last week.
Another feature to ride out a political storm is the height of the speaker’s podium — placed at least seven feet from the well of the House.
“It prevent the members from storming the podium, throw papers on the speaker and ransack the place, leave alone assaulting him. Even if the members climb the desks of the assembly secretary and staff below the podium, they cannot reach the speaker’s chair,” the engineer said.
Stairs leading to the chair are barricaded to prevent members from reaching the speaker.
All hell breaks loose in the well of the House during an opposition protest. The architects of the new assembly have taken care of that, making the well smaller. Not many members can fit in when they dash to the coveted area in front of the speaker’s podium to shout slogans.
These highlights might get tested when the assembly sits for the for the budget session from March 3 — the first in Amaravati.
“We have held six assembly sessions in Hyderabad and we are now moving to Amaravati. We have built the new assembly in a record time of one year,” speaker Kodela Sivaprasada Rao said.
The assembly complex, that cost more than Rs 1,000 crore after price escalation, has the lawmakers’ hall on the ground floor with 225 seats. A futuristic thought as an anticipated delimitation of constituencies by 2019 would take the strength of the House to that many members from the current 175.
The Opposition described the building a waste of taxpayer’s money. A group of YSR Congress lawmakers complained that there was no “peshi” for the leader of Opposition, YS Jaganmohan Reddy, and that the chamber allotted to him was too small. A peshi comprises a chamber as well as anterooms for staff.