Furore over Cong leader's 'Rashtrapatni' remark, LS adjourned

Union Minister Smriti Irani speaks in the Lok Sabha during ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Thursday, July 28, 2022. PHOTO: SANSAD TV/PTI

New Delhi: Lok Sabha was adjourned till 4 pm on Thursday amid noisy scenes as BJP members strongly protested against Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury referring to President Droupadi Murmu as 'Rashtrapatni'.

As soon as the House met at 11 am, BJP members were up on their feet demanding an apology from Congress president Sonia Gandhi over Chowdhury's remark.

"The Congress leader has disrespected the President. The Congress cannot tolerate that Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a poor tribal woman the Presidential candidate," Union Minister Smriti Irani said.

Amid the furore, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla adjourned the proceedings of the House till noon.

Similar scenes were witnessed when the House reassembled.

"Sonia Gandhi should apologise for Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury's remarks," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said amid the din.

Later, BJP member Rajendra Agarwal, who was in the Chair, adjourned the proceedings till 4 pm.

Women BJP MPs, including Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister of State for Agriculture Shobha Karandlaje, raised slogans seeking an apology from Congress.

"It was a deliberate insult by the Congress leader and the party president should apologise to the country,” Sitharaman said outside Parliament House.

Earlier, Irani said Murmu has become the target of the Congress' hatred.

"Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury's remark is anti-Adivasi, anti-poor and anti-woman," she said.

Targeting Gandhi, Irani alleged the Congress president "sanctioned humiliation" of a poor tribal woman who has occupied the highest constitutional post in the country.

"Sonia Gandhi, maafi maango (Sonia Gandhi, apologise). Your male leaders are disrespecting a poor tribal woman," the minister said.

Such humiliation of Murmu will not be tolerated by the poor, tribals and women of the country, she added.

BJP MPs strongly supported Irani, inviting counter-protests from Congress members.

Chowdhury is the leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha and made the remark on Murmu while talking to the media during his party's protests over a host of issues.

Later, the Congress leader told reporters outside Parliament that referring to Murmu as 'Rashtrapatni' was a "slip of the tongue" and accused the BJP of making a "mountain out of a molehill" over the issue.

The president is called 'Rashtrapati' in Hindi.

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