New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has demanded an apology from the Congress party for its member Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s ‘Rashtrapatni’ remark, made against President Droupadi Murmu.
On Thursday, union ministers Smriti Irani and Nirmala Sitharamaman — while speaking in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, respectively — asked Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and the party to apologise in Parliament and on the streets of India, for Chowdhury’s remark.
Irani said despite being led by a woman — Gandhi — Congressmen continue to demean women in constitutional posts.
Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were adjourned till noon over protests against Chowdhury’s comment.
The matter was also raised by union leader Piyush Goyal outside Parliament.
Chowdhury, the leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha, had reportedly made the comment Wednesday, during the party’s protests against the Enforcement Directorate’s questioning of Sonia Gandhi in the National Herald money laundering case. When asked by reporters about the Congress’s plan to march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Chowdhury appears to say in a video, “Yes, we will visit the Rashtrapati Bhavan. India’s rashtrapati, no rashtrapatni, is for all.”
While Congress president Sonia Gandhi has claimed that Chowdhury has already apologised, the MP while speaking to reporters Thursday said it was a slip of tongue.
“I had mistakenly said ‘Rashtrapatni’…the ruling party in a deliberate design is trying to make a mountain out of a molehill,” he said.
‘Sanctioned humiliation of Droupadi Murmu’
When Parliament resumed Thursday, union minister Smriti Irani slammed Choudhury for his remark against the president.
Pointing out that Murmu is a “poor, tribal woman who has risen to the highest office”, Irani demanded an apology not only from Choudhury, but Congress interim-president Sonia Gandhi for the Congress MP’s remarks.
Irani said soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made Murmu the NDA nominee for the President’s post, she became the centre of the Congress party’s malicious campaign.
“Congress male leaders termed her a puppet and an inauspicious omen. Congress leaders have insulted the President by terming her the ‘Rashtrapatni’. Congress is unable to swallow the respect an adivasi (tribal) woman is getting,” she said.
Targeting Gandhi, Irani said, “you sanctioned the humiliation of Droupadi Murmu”, and asked the Congress interim president to apologise to the nation and the tribals of the country.
“Sonia Gandhi, you sanctioned the humiliation of Droupadi Murmu. Sonia ji sanctioned humiliation of a woman in the highest constitutional post,” she said.
At the same time, in the Rajya Sabha, union minister Nirmala Sitharaman too asked Gandhi to apologise for the “objectionable” statement made by Chowdhury, terming it a “sexist insult”.
“Rashtrapati is a gender agnostic word representing the leader of the country. I think it was not the slip of the tongue, it was a deliberate sexist insult against a person who comes from a tribal background, who is a self-made woman, who coming from a backward region of the country has served as MLA, has served successfully as a minister and has been a very good governor. And now the entire country is rejoicing in her selection for the Rashtrapati,” she said.
Sitharaman added: “And this time for a leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha to call her ‘Rashtrapatni’.. As though in a very pati, patni (husband wife) kind of a level has insulted the President of India. I demand an apology from the president of the Congress party, who herself being a woman has allowed her leader in the Lok Sabha to speak insultingly about our Rashtrapati.”
The finance minister, while speaking to the reporters after the Parliament was adjourned, also said that Gandhi was trying to mislead by stating that Chowdhury has apologised.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)