Saturday, August 13, 2022

Sonia, Smriti face-off in Lok Sabha

A high-voltage drama was on Thursday witnessed in the Lok Sabha when Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and Union Minister Smriti Irani got engaged in a bitter face-off that escalated the already raging row over Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury calling President Droupadi Murmu “rashtrapatni”.
Chowdhury’s remark on Murmu has triggered a war of words between the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress. Meanwhile, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi has demanded an apology from Gandhi over the same.
Chowdhury issued a clarification on Twitter over his statement on President Murmu and asked the media to refrain from involving ‘madam’ Sonia Gandhi in the row. “If I am at fault, hang me. Don’t involve madam,” he said amid remarks from the BJP that they felt “threatened” upon Gandhi walking the treasury bench amid the ruckus. Chowdhury said he will apologise to President Murmu but not to “these pakhandis” (hypocrites).
As the Lower House of Parliament adjourned soon after 12 noon, Gandhi walked across to the Treasury benches and asked BJP member Rama Devi why she was dragged into the “rashtrapatni” controversy.
At the same time, Irani, who was reportedly seen gesturing towards Gandhi, raised slogans ‘maafi mango’ (apologise) along with a few women BJP MPs as the Congress chief continued her chat with Devi ignoring them. Seeing Gandhi surrounded by BJP MPs, NCP member Supriya Sule and TMC member Aparupa Poddar immediately escorted Gandhi away, while Parliamentary Affairs Minister Joshi tried to calm the treasury benches.
Later, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman alleged in the House that Gandhi had spoken in a “threatening tone” to a BJP member, an apparent reference to Irani. Sitharaman claimed that Gandhi told BJP members “you don’t talk to me” when they sought to know what was the issue being discussed.
While speaking to the media later, Devi said that Gandhi sought to know why her name was dragged into the issue. “What is my fault,” Gandhi asked Devi, who said she told Gandhi that her fault was that she had selected Chowdhury as the Congress leader in the Lok Sabha. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh termed Irani’s behaviour as “outrageous” and tweeted, “Atrocious and outrageous behaviour by Union Minister Smriti Irani in the Lok Sabha today! But will she be pulled up by the Speaker? Are rules only meant for the Opposition.”
Several Opposition leaders have extended support to Gandhi and claimed that she was “encircled, heckled pack-wolf style” by the BJP MPs.
Congress deputy leader in Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi said, “Today one of the most senior leaders of India who is both an elderly lady, recovering from Covid was attacked. She was subject to insults by one Union Minister and was on the verge of being pushed and injured by the BJP MPs.”
Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Jairam Ramesh met Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and demanded action against Irani.
Meanwhile, three more MPs – AAP’s Sushil Kumar Gupta and Sanjeev Kumar Pathak, and independent Ajit Kumar Bhuyan – on Thursday were suspended from the Rajya Sabha for carrying placards in the House and demanding a discussion on Gujarat hooch tragedy.
The total number of suspended MPs from the Rajya Sabha has now reached 23. Four Congress MPs from the Lok Sabha were also suspended earlier.


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