Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal on Thursday accused the Congress of insulting the President of India by using derogatory words against her, and charged that the opposition now wants to view the President’s office through the prism of caste and religion. Speaking in the House soon after it met after the first adjournment, Goyal said the Congress has not only insulted the President and all women of the country, but also tribals as well as the entire upper house. Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had on Wednesday described President Droupadi Murmu as “rashtrapatni”.
As protests erupted over the issue, Chowdhury on Thursday accused the BJP of making a “mountain out of a molehill” over the matter, and said the term was used only once by mistake and he never intended any disrespect to the president. Slamming the Congress over the matter, Goyal said, “Today, the entire country is seriously concerned that the President has been insulted and it will not tolerate this”. Congress president Sonia Gandhi should apologise to the President of India and the entire country, he said.
The union minister said Chowdhury repeated this insult again by saying the President can be a Brahmin or an Adivasi. “Does the Congress wants to see the President’s office through the prism of caste and religion. They want to divide the President like this. What does he mean to say,” Goyal asked. He said the Leader of the Congress, while describing the issue as “minor”, has accused the ruling party of creating uproar over the matter. “But the matter is of concern to the entire country and is agitating everyone,” he said.
“I condemn the remarks and demand that the Congress president apologise to the entire nation,” Goyal said Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the MP concerned is a member of the Lok Sabha and the issue cannot be raised in the Rajya Sabha. However, the deputy chairman said the remarks have been made outside the House. Earlier, union minister Nirmala Sitharaman raised the issue and demanded an apology from the Congress president for the remark.
“Chowdhury’s comments were not a slip of tongue. It was a deliberate sexist insult against the President,” Sitharaman said She said at a time the entire country is rejoicing at the selection of a self-made woman from a tribal background as the President, “for the leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha to call her ‘rashtrapatni’ in a ‘pati-patni’ (husband-wife) kind of a level, has insulted the President of India.” “I demand an apology from the president of the Congress party who herself is a woman,” she said.