Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Friday apologised to President Droupadi Murmu for calling her “rashtrapatni”.
“I am writing to express my regret for having mistakenly used an incorrect word to describe the position you hold,” the Congress leader said in a letter to Murmu. “I assure you that it was a slip of the tongue. I apologise and request you to accept the same.”
Chowdhury, the leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, had referred to the president as “rashtrapatni” on Wednesday while protesting against the questioning of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi by the Enforcement Directorate in a money-laundering case related to the National Herald newspaper.
His remark triggered a political controversy with Bharatiya Janata Party leaders seeking an apology from Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Thursday in Parliament. They described Chowdhury’s comment as misogynist and demeaning to the Adivasi community.
In the Lok Sabha, reports said that Gandhi and Union minister Smriti Irani were involved in a dramatic face-off. Irani alleged that the Congress president had “sanctioned the humiliation” of Murmu. Some members of the BJP also started shouting, “Sonia Gandhi maafi mango [Sonia Gandhi apologise].”
Similarly, in the Rajya Sabha, Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Piyush Goyal criticised Gandhi and demanded an apology from her.
Congress writes to Rajya Sabha chairperson
Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, on Friday wrote a letter to Chairperson M Venkaiah Naidu urging him to expunge the remarks made by Sitharaman and Goyal about Gandhi.
Kharge cited Parliamentary practices and conventions stating that critical remarks should not be made about the other House or members of the other House.
He also referred to an observation made by R Venkataraman, the former chairperson of Rajya Sabha. On April 15, 1987, Venkataraman had ruled that no person who is not a member of the Upper House can be referred to in a derogatory manner or in a way that it affects his or her reputation.
“In fact, even a Question of Privilege cannot be raised directly in one House against the members of the other House,” the letter said. “In this regard, a procedure has been laid down based on a report of Joint Sitting of Committees of Privileges of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha which was presented to both Houses on August 23, 1954 and later adopted by the Houses in December, 1954.”
Kharge urged the Rajya Sabha chairperson to ask Sitharaman and Goyal to apologise for “violating the sacrosanct convention”.