New Delhi: Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s “Rashtrapatni” comment concerning the newly elected tribal President of India Droupadi Murmu emerged as a massive controversy and turned ugly on Thursday when BJP leader Smriti Irani, Sonia Gandhi and other leaders from both factions indulged in a nasty war of words. Now, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhry addressing the BJP leaders, who were outraged by his comments, said that he will apologise to the President herself but not the ‘pakhandis’ (hypocrites). Ranjan’s reaction is likely to draw more criticism from the BJP. Chowdhury also accused the BJP of making a “mountain out of a molehill” over the issue, PTI reported.
“I have sought time from the President and will apologise to her, but not to these ‘pakhandis’,” the Congress leader said, referring to the BJP.
Clarifying his contentious remark, Chowdhury added the term ‘Rashtrapatni’ was used only once by mistake and he never intended any disrespect to the President even as the BJP stalled both Houses of Parliament and asked Congress president Sonia Gandhi to apologise to the nation.
“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 the wrong word. I even looked for media persons 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 Rashtrapatni controversy: BJP sought an apology
While demanding an apology from Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi, Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said that Congress Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary deliberately called President Droupdai Murmu `Rashtrapatni` and repeated it twice.
“An apology has to come from the Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi. There`s no question of anything else,” top government sources said. Speaking to ANI, the Union Minister 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,” said Goyal
(With inputs from agencies)