Rajya Sabha was adjourned for almost an hour on Thursday as the Opposition stuck to its demand for a discussion on price rise and the treasury benches sought an apology from Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury over his “rashtrapatni” remark on President Droupadi Murmu.
Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu took exception to opposition MPs rushing into the well holding placards over the issue of price rise. “This is not the way,” he said. “Members who have brought placards, note down their names. And they are named.”
According to rules, any MP named by the Chair has to withdraw from the proceedings of the House for the rest of the day. “Please go to your seat. (If) you are named… then go out,” Naidu said, adding, “People who are carrying placards, they are named and they have to leave the house otherwise action will be taken.”
While there were about a dozen MPs in the well, Naidu did not say how many of them have been named. Earlier, after the official listed papers were laid on the table, he said filming of the proceedings of the House by MPs is prohibited and action will be taken against anyone found violating the rules.
Naidu allowed Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to make a submission on Chowdhury calling President Droupadi Murmu “rashtrapatni”. After Sitharaman sought an apology from Congress president Sonia Gandhi over Chowdhury’s remark, women MPs from the treasury benches also joined her in raising the issue.
Opposition MPs continued shouting slogans, forcing Naidu to adjourn the proceedings till 12 noon.
Lok Sabha proceedings were also adjourned till 12 noon amid uproar as the BJP strongly protested against Chowdhury’s remark. As soon as the House met at 11 am, Union Minister Smriti Irani accused Chowdhury of disrespecting Murmu by calling her ‘Rashtrapatni’ on Wednesday. Irani claimed that Chowdhury has disrespected the entire tribal community, women, poor and the downtrodden by his remark.
She demanded an apology from Sonia Gandhi for Chowdhury’s remark, claiming that Gandhi sanctioned the humiliation of a poor tribal woman who has become the country’s president. BJP MPs strongly supported Irani, inviting counter protests from Congress members.
As the turmoil continued for a few minutes, Speaker Om Birla adjourned the House till 12 noon. Chowdhury is the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha and used the remark while talking to the media during his party’s protests over a host of issues.
The President is called “Rashtrapati” in Hindi.
After the ruckus over the controversy continued, Chowdhury came out with a clarification on Twitter. He also asked the media to refrain from involving ‘madam’ Sonia Gandhi in the row. “If I am at fault, hang me. Don’t involve madam,” he said amid remarks from the BJP that they felt “threatened” upon Sonia Gandhi walking the treasury bench amid the ruckus.
“India’s President, whoever it is, whether a Brahmin or tribal, a Rashtrapati is a Rashtrapati. It is a post of great honour. When reporters yesterday asked me during a protest where we are headed, I said – We are going to the Rashtrapati’s house, to meet with the Rashtrapati. But once, Rashtrapatni slipped out. That is because in the past few days, there has been so much discussion over our new President. It came out only once,” Chowdhury said.
— Adhir Chowdhury (@adhirrcinc) July 28, 2022
The Congress leader said that after making the comment, he had requested the media not to use it, but it played out despite that. “Now there is bawaal (ruckus). Over a slip – one word. It is very surprising. The BJP has nothing to say against us, so they find some masala. They are blowing up the issue out of proportion. They are making mountain out of molehill,” Chowdhury said.
Chowdhury said he will apologise to President Murmu but not to “these pakhandis” (hypocrites).
Chowdhury said the term was used only once by mistake and he never intended any disrespect to the President. “I inadvertently used the word ‘rashtrapatni’ just once and it was a slip of the tongue. I never meant any disrespect to the President,” he told reporters outside Parliament.
“What should I do? I said it and realised I uttered a wrong word. I even looked for mediapersons to request them to not focus on it. However, I couldn’t find them,” Chowdhury said a day after making the remark. He later said, “I am a Bengali and not used to Hindi. I made a mistake, I agree.” The Congress leader said he has sought time from the President the day after tomorrow and will apologise to her if she has been offended by his inadvertent comments.
“The issue is being blown out of proportion… I do not have the remotest intention of humiliating the highest chair of our country,” Chowdhury said.
With inputs from agencies