Home / News / India /  'Don't talk to me': Sonia Gandhi vs Smriti Irani in Parliament as 'Rashtrapatni' remark row escalates

NEW DELHI : Congress President Sonia Gandhi told BJP leader and minister of Women and Child Development of India Smriti Irani ‘Don't talk to me' when the latter interrupted Gandhi when she demanded that her name should not be dragged into the the row over the ‘rashtrapatni’ remark made by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

Irani sought an apology from Congress President Sonia Gandhi after Adhir Chowdhury's remarks. To this reports have suggested that Sonia walked up to BJP MP Rama Devi and asked why was she being dragged into the matter when Adhir Chowdhury had already apologised. This is when reportedly Smriti Irani tried to intervene and was shut down by Sonia Gandhi when the latter stated, "Don't talk to me."

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, "Some of our Lok Sabha MPs felt threatened when Sonia Gandhi came up to our senior leader Rama Devi to find out what was happening during which, one of our members approached there & she (Sonia Gandhi) said "You don't talk to me".

Spat between Sonia Gandhi and Smriti Irani

According to Hindustan Times, the people present at the parliament during the altercation said that the verbal duel broke out when Gandhi approached BJP MP Rama Devi to explain that Chowdhury had already apologised for his remarks and that the BJP should not drag her name into the controversy. The BJP, however, insisted that the Congress chief apologise for her MP’s remarks.

“Just as she was returning, a group of BJP women MPs, including Smriti Irani, shouted at her and said that she should also apologise for the remarks against the President… At that point, Gandhi told Irani not to speak to her," said a person present during the exchange.

According to the witnesses, Sonia Gandhi’s comment sparked a furore, with some BJP lawmakers even raising their voices.

“Opposition MPs, mostly women, then came and led Gandhi away, but the BJP side kept protesting," the person said.

What is the ‘Rashtrapatni’ remark row

The Lok Sabha on Thursday witnessed severe altercation and confrontations after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members protested against Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury calling the President of India Droupadi Murmu ‘Rashtrapatni’. The Lok Sabha had been adjourned till 4pm amid massive protests from women BJP leaders led by minister of Women and Child Development of India Smriti Irani, who recently faced the heat of Opposition after it was alleged that her 18 year old daughter was running an illegal bar in south Goa.

Adhir Chowdhury later apologised for calling Murmu ‘Rashtrapatni’ citing language barriers, which BJP denied as an excuse. Chowdhury said, “I can't even think of insulting the President. It was just a mistake. If the President felt bad, I will personally meet her and apologise. They can hang me if they want. I am ready to get punished but why is she (Sonia Gandhi) being dragged in this?".

Both houses of the parliament were adjourned till 12pm amid mounting protests from BJP. Later the Lok Sabha was adjourned till 4 pm and the Rajya Sabha till 2pm.

“In another low, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, condescendingly refers to President Droupadi Murmu as “राष्ट्रपत्नी". The characterisation is not just sexist but reeks of disdain for a Tribal woman, who has risen from a modest background, to the highest office of land", tweeted Amit Malviya.

Congress leaders react

Furious Congress leaders accused Smriti Irani of attacking their party chief.

“Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has already apologised for his remark. The government does not have anything to say in the Parliament, hence they are making an issue of his statement. He (Adhir) did not even get a chance to speak in the Parliament," said Congress leader Gurjeet Singh Aujla

Congress leader also chimed in to the the protest and said Sonia Gandhi was insulted in the parliament. “The party which raises slogans in the name of women, today they have shown how they have humiliated another woman (Sonia Gandhi). Our leader was humble and polite. If BJP thinks such small behaviour is going to affect her, it is their mistake", he said.

“Today we saw a very shameful behavior towards our leader Sonia Gandhi inside Lok Sabha. Objectionable slogans were raised against her. But being a fearless leader, Sonia Gandhi went to the women MPs, but BJP MPs behaved in a very ill-mannered way", he added.

“Union Minister Smriti Irani behaved indecently and abusively in Lok Sabha today! But will the speaker condemn it? Are rules only for the opposition?", said Senior leader Jairam Ramesh.

Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra also backed the India National Congress claims and said that the BJP's statement on Sonia intimidating their party leaders were false.

According to Hindustan Times, Moitra, who was a witness to the verbal exchange between Gandhi and BJP MP Smriti Irani, said the way the BJP MPs were screaming at the senior Congress leader, it seemed they were like a pack of hyenas, while adding that when the Opposition leaders tried to take Gandhi out of the melee, the latter said she was not afraid. Moitra further said, “We got Mrs Gandhi out. They had all surrounded her and were shouting at her. How can a 75-year-old in a mask be intimidating to anyone?"

“Was in Lok Sabha when 75 year old lady senior leader encircled & heckled pack-wolf style when all she did was walk over & speak (masked) to another senior lady panel chairperson. Disgusted to read BJP lies & false version in press." Moitra tweeted. 

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