Several members of the Lok Sabha on Friday condemned the sexist remarks by Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan about Bharatiya Janata Party MP Rama Devi during the previous day’s proceedings. Speaker Om Birla met with floor leaders of all political parties and decided that Khan should apologise or face action instead, PTI reported.

“The Speaker will ask Azam Khan to apologise over his comments made against Rama Devi without any condition in the House,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said. “If he does not do so, the Speaker has been authorised to take action against him.”

The decision came after a number of political leaders asked Birla to take stringent action against Khan. “This is a blot on all legislators, including men,” said Union minister Smriti Irani in the House. “We cannot remain silent spectators to it. We have to speak in one voice that this is unacceptable.”

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad demanded that Khan either issue an apology or be suspended, PTI reported.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said it was encouraging to see the members of the House condemning the remarks but criticised those hesitating to come forward. “To politicise an issue related to women is outrageous, we have to stand together so why the hesitation in some?” ANI quoted her as saying. “Why the dilemma? Why add riders?”

The Samajwadi Party MP made the sexist remarks during a debate on the triple talaq bill on Thursday, when Rama Devi was chairing proceedings in the absence of Speaker Om Birla. When Devi asked Khan to look at her while speaking as she was in the chair, he said, “Aap mujhe itni achchi lagti hain ki mera mann karta hai ki aap ki aankhon mein aankhein dale rahoon [I like you so much that I wish to look into your eyes and keep looking at you].”

Earlier on Friday, Rama Devi said that Khan never respected women and referred to his sexist remarks against BJP leader Jaya Prada. “He has no right to stay in Lok Sabha, I will request Speaker to dismiss him. Azam Khan must apologise,” she said, according to ANI.

Trinamool Congress MP Mimi Chakraborty told Speaker Om Birla that the members in the House were expecting “something big” from him. “Nobody can stand in the Parliament and tell a woman ‘look into my eyes and talk’,” she said.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury also condemned the remarks. “Congress party is against disrespect of women. There have been incidents when Sonia Gandhiji was called ‘Italy ki katputli’ etc in the Parliament,” he said.

Senior Biju Janata Dal leader B Mahtab described the incident as “not just shameful but also unpardonable”. He also asked the Speaker to take “exemplary action” against Khan to make sure that such incidents don’t happen again.

Meanwhile, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, who is not a member of the House, said Khan’s statement was against the dignity of women and was hurtful. “It is highly condemnable, he should not only apologise to the Lok Sabha but also to all women,” she said, according to ANI.