Updated: Thu, 28 Jul 2022 01:55 PM IST
A massive row erupted in the Parliament on Thursday after Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury called President Droupadi Murmu 'rashtrapatni'. Although the Lok Sabha MP issued a clarification later, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) launched a fierce attack on Congress, demanding an apology from its president Sonia Gandhi.
As the debate continued in the Parliament, a dramatic face-off took place between Sonia and a BJP MP (reportedly Union Minister Smriti Irani) in the Lok Sabha. Sonia had approached BJP MP Rama Devi when Irani intervened during their conversation. However, the Congress president got agitated and told Irani "not to talk" to her.
"Some of our Lok Sabha MPs felt threatened when Sonia Gandhi came up to our senior leader Rama Devi to find out what was happening during which, one of our members approached there and she (Sonia Gandhi) said, 'You don't talk to me'," Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a statement later.
#WATCH | Some of our Lok Sabha MPs felt threatened when Sonia Gandhi came up to our senior leader Rama Devi to find out what was happening during which, one of our members approached there & she (Sonia Gandhi) said "You don't talk to me": Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman pic.twitter.com/WxFnT2LTvk— ANI (@ANI) July 28, 2022
Following this, BJP MPs started shouting slogans against Sonia, but some Trinamool Congress (TMC) MPs and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Supriya Sule drew the Congress president away. Later, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi stepped in to defuse the tensions.
The BJP alleged that Sonia threatened its MPs, but the grand old party claimed that Irani attacked the Congress president. "Union Minister Smriti Irani behaved indecently and abusively in Lok Sabha today! But will the speaker condemn it? Are rules only for the opposition," tweeted Congress' Jairam Ramesh.
Meanwhile, Chowdhury, 67, has called his 'rashtrapatni' remark "slip of the tongue". Several party leaders have also defended him, accusing the BJP of making a "mountain out of a molehill" over the issue.
"I can't even think of insulting the President. It was just a mistake. If the President felt bad, I will personally meet her and apologise. They can hang me if they want. I am ready to get punished but why is she (Sonia Gandhi) being dragged in this," Chowdhury was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
However, the BJP has said that the entire country is upset with Chowdhury's remark against the President. "The entire country today is upset over Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury's remark on the President. Congress has been insulting tribal leaders," said Union Minister Piyush Goyal.