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Lok Sabha Adjourned Amid Furore Over Adhir Chowdhury's Remark on President Murmu

“I inadvertently used the word 'rashtrapatni' just once and it was a slip of the tongue. I never meant any disrespect to the President,” says Congress leader
Lok sabha

Representational use only.Image Courtesy: The Indian Express

New Delhi: Lok Sabha was adjourned till 4 pm on Thursday amid noisy scenes as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members protested against Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury referring to President Droupadi Murmu as 'rashtrapatni'.

As soon as the House met at 11 am, BJP members were up on their feet demanding an apology from Congress president Sonia Gandhi over Chowdhury's remark.

"The Congress leader has disrespected the President. The Congress cannot tolerate that Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a poor tribal woman the Presidential candidate," Union Minister Smriti Irani said.

The Congress leader accused the BJP of “making a mountain out of a molehill” and told reporters that: “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 had made the remark on Tuesday while speaking to reporters outside Parliament.

Amid the furore, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla adjourned the proceedings of the House till 12 noon.

Similar scenes were witnessed when the House reassembled.

"Sonia Gandhi should apologise for Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury's remarks," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said amid the din.

Later, BJP member Rajendra Agarwal, who was in the Chair, adjourned the proceedings till 4 pm.

Earlier, Irani said Murmu has become the target of the Congress' hatred.

"Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury's remark is anti-adivasi, anti-poor and anti-woman," she said.

Targeting Gandhi, Irani alleged the Congress president "sanctioned humiliation" of a poor tribal woman who has occupied the highest constitutional post in the country.

"Sonia Gandhi, maafi maango (Sonia Gandhi, apologise). Your male leaders are disrespecting a poor tribal woman," the minister said.

Chowdhury is the leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha and made the remark on Murmu while talking to the media during his party's protests over a host of issues.

Later, the Congress leader told reporters outside Parliament that referring to Murmu as 'rashtrapatni' was a "slip of the tongue" and accused the BJP of making a "mountain out of a molehill" over the issue.

The president is called 'rashtrapati' in Hindi.

Chowhdury said the term was used once adding: “"What should I do? I said it and realised I uttered a wrong word. I even looked for mediapersons who I had said this to. To request them to not focus on it. However, I couldn't find them," he added, a day after the remark.

In a video message later, he said India's president, be it Brahmin or tribal, is respected by all. 

“Yesterday, when we were holding a protest at Vijay Chowk, journalists asked where we wanted to go. I said 'rashtrapatni' only once by mistake. I urged the journalists not to show my video where I committed a mistake. The BJP is creating a row over it now,” he said.

According to Chowdhury, the BJP does not have anything on the party and is finding "masala" against it.

“The issue is being blown out of proportion... I do not have the remotest intention of humiliating the highest chair of our country,” Chowdhury said.

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