'Rashtrapatni' Row: Congress Cries Foul Over Smriti Irani's Face-Off With Sonia Gandhi; BJP Hits Back

Rashtrapatni Remark Row: Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, 66, referred to President Murmu as 'rashtrapatni', but the BJP accused the Congress leader of disrespecting women and tribals in India.

By Aalok Sensharma
Thu, 28 Jul 2022 03:57 PM IST
Minute Read
'Rashtrapatni' Row: Congress Cries Foul Over Smriti Irani's Face-Off With Sonia Gandhi; BJP Hits Back
Union Minister Smriti Irani (left) and Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi (right) | Photo: ANI

The direct face-off between Union Minister Smriti Irani and Sonia Gandhi on Thursday added fuel to the already raging row between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress amid a row over Lok Sabha MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury's controversial remark on President Droupadi Murmu.

Chowdhury, 66, referred to President Murmu as 'rashtrapatni', but the BJP accused the Congress leader of disrespecting women and tribals in India. The issue was also discussed in Parliament, with the BJP MPs demanding an apology from Sonia.

During the debate, Sonia walked up to BJP's Rama Devi, but Irani stepped in. However, Sonia ignored Irani and asked her not to speak to her. The BJP claimed Sonia threatened one of its leaders, but the grand old party has accused Irani of 'unruly behaviour', demanding her suspension from the House.

His call for Irani's suspension comes at a time when several opposition MPs have been suspended from the Parliament over their behaviour.

Congress MP Jairam Ramesh said Irani's behaviour in Lok Sabha on Thursday was "atrocious and outrageous". "But will she be pulled up by the Speaker? Are rules only meant for the Opposition?," he said in a tweet.

Gaurav Gogoi, Congress' deputy leader in Lok Sabha, also made a similar claim and called the behaviour of BJP MPs towards Sonia "shameful", saying "objectionable" slogans were made against her.

"But being a fearless leader, Sonia Gandhi went to the women MPs, but BJP MPs behaved in a very ill-mannered way," Gogoi, 39, told news agency ANI.

"The party which raises slogans in the name of women, today they have shown how they have humiliated another woman (Sonia Gandhi). Our leader was humble and polite. If BJP thinks such small behaviour is going to affect her, it is their mistake," he said.

Former Union Minister Milind Deora also attacked the BJP and said Sonia, even if she is being attacked, never got impolite or rude. This is not the first time that she has been targeted personally and of late, unjustly, both inside and outside Parliament. She has and will always endure," Deora said.

However, the BJP has accused Sonia of speaking in a "threatening tone" with its MPs. Leading the charge, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Sonia told BJP members "you don't talk to me", when they sought to know what was the issue being discussed.

"Instead of tendering an apology, she is misleading by claiming that Adhir Chowdhury has already apologised. Instead of an apology, she is resorting to threats," Sitharaman said, as reported by news agency PTI.

The saffron party also slammed Chowdhary's clarification, saying the Congress MP called President Murmu 'Rashtrapatni' deliberately and repeated it twice. It said the country will never tolerate this insult to tribal people.

"The way Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has insulted the President shows their mentality. This country will never tolerate this insult to our tribal people. After all that, he said that there is no need to apologise for this," Union Minister Piyush Goyal said.

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