Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, faced with BJP demands for an apology for calling President Draupadi Murmu a ‘Rashtrapatni’, today said he would apologize to the president but no one else.
“Rashtrapatni got away, it was my mistake. I’m Bengali, not a Hindi speaking person, so it got away. I never meant to insult the highest office in the country,” Adhir Chowdhury told NDTV.
“I said not once but 100 times that I made a mistake. What can I do? People can be wrong. I am Bengali, Hindi is not my mother tongue. I have no not used to Hindi. If despite this our president is offended, then I will meet her, talk to her and explain to her. I will not disrespect anyone in this high office,” the congressman said.
“I don’t speak Hindi, that doesn’t mean I will deliberately insult or undermine someone.”
As the BJP demanded an apology not only from him but also from his party boss Sonia Gandhi, Mr Chowdhury said: “If I made the mistake or did something wrong, then why would anyone should one else be dragged into this?”
Earlier, he released a video in his defence, accusing the ruling BJP of being too slippery.
“The president of India, whoever he is, Brahmin or tribal – a Rashtrapati is a Rashtrapati. It is a post of great honor and prestige. Yesterday when reporters asked me at a protest where we were heading, I said – We are going to the Rashtrapati house, to meet the Rashtrapati. Suddenly, once, Rashtrapati escaped. This is because in the last few days there have been so many talks about our new president. One time, one time, it’s out. by default,” Mr Chowdhury said.
— Adhir Chowdhury (@adhirrcinc) July 28, 2022
The Congressman said that after making the comment he asked the media not to use it, but it went ahead anyway.
“Now there is bawaal (heckling). On a slip – a word. This is very surprising. The BJP has nothing to say against us, so they find masala. They blow the issue out of proportion They are making the mountain a molehill,” Mr Chowdhury said.
The BJP has demanded an apology from Congress President Sonia Gandhi, accusing her of “sanctioning” such remarks from her party leader.
When asked if Mr Chowdhury would apologise, Sonia Gandhi told NDTV: ‘He has already apologised.
The ruling party protested in both houses of parliament and the disruptions led to repeated adjournments.
In Lok Sabha, Union Minister Smriti Irani said Congress should apologize in Parliament and on the streets of India, to every Indian citizen.
“Sonia Gandhi has appointed the leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha a man who calls Drupadi Murmu ji ‘Rashtrapatni’…Under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi, members of Congress continue to belittle women in constitutional positions. Congress Party for belittling the first tribal president of our country must apologize in Parliament, in the streets of India and the apology is not only due to the President of India but to every Indian citizen duly represented by Draupadi Murmu ji in power”, Smriti Irani said as BJP leaders held up signs and chanted slogans.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told Rajya Sabha: “It was a deliberate and sexist insult to the President of India.”