Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury apologises to President Droupadi Murmu for a slip of the tongue

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Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, a representative for the Congress party, speaks with the media at Parliament House in New Delhi on Friday, July 29, 2022.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, wrote to President Droupadi Murmu on Friday in the midst of a political uproar over his “Rashtrapatni” remark for her. He apologised for having “mistakenly” used a “incorrect phrase” to describe the post she holds. It was a “slip of the tongue,” he insisted.

According to sources, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury requested a meeting with the President to express his regret and give a personal justification. After spending the entire day waiting without receiving an appointment, he wrote to her.

“I am writing to express my sorrow for having used an erroneous word to characterise the job you hold,” Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury wrote in his letter to the President. It was a typo, I can guarantee you of that. I sincerely regret this and ask that you accept it.

On Monday, when the House is scheduled to revisit the matter of price increases, his apologies to the President is being interpreted as an effort to deflect another attack from the BJP.

In a letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Union Minister Smriti Irani was urged to remove all references to Congress leader Sonia Gandhi from her remarks on Thursday in response to his remark about the President.

“I am writing this letter to clear the air regarding the President Droupadi Murmu-related unnecessary and undesired parliamentary impasse. Rashtrapati Murmu is regarded in the highest regard by me. I regret to inform you that this argument started due of a simple linguistic error on my part. Since Bengali is my mother tongue and I don’t speak Hindi very well, this error happened. He wrote to the Speaker, “It is really very sad that Madam Rashtrapati Ji’s name is being unnecessarily dragged for the purpose of obtaining cheap publicity and political one-upmanship by the ruling party.

He claimed that Irani’s usage of the President’s name in the House was not appropriate nor consistent with the President’s standing and position.

“She was saying “Droupadi Murmu” continuously without adding the words “Honorable President,” “Madam,” or “Smt. This blatantly lowers the dignity of the position of the Hon. President. Because of this, I urge that the way Smriti Irani addressed the Honorable President be removed from the House proceedings, Chowdhury remarked.

“I want to emphasise once more that Gandhi had nothing to do with this regrettable incident. Irani and the ruling party, however, purposefully drew her name into this debate. With Gandhi, Irani acted in a very improper manner. I request that the entire incident including Gandhi’s name be removed as she has nothing to do with this matter, he wrote in the letter.

In front of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament, Congress MPs protested and demanded an apology from the administration over Irani’s altercation with Sonia. Party lawmakers brought up the matter in both Houses despite treasury benches criticising the Congress for Chowdhury’s comments.

The matter of references to Sonia Gandhi, a member of the Lok Sabha, made by Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Piyush Goyal in the House on Thursday was brought up in Rajya Sabha by Mallikarjun Kharge, the leader of the opposition.

Kharge sought Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu in a letter to have comments made regarding Sonia by Sitharaman and Goyal removed. They had called for Sonia to apologise for Chowdhury’s statement.

Invoking a long-standing rule in the Rajya Sabha that prohibits members from discussing or criticising the Lok Sabha or its members, Kharge requested that the Chairman instruct Goyal and Sitharaman to apologise for breaking the “sacrosanct rule.”

But some Congress members are not pleased with the uproar that Chowdhury has caused. Manish Tewari, a leader in the Congress and a member of the Lok Sabha, wrote on Twitter: “Lady or Gentleman, everyone filling a constitutional office is equally Hon’ble. That institution deserves respect, which must be shown. Any individual in a specific role becomes comparable to or associated with that office. There’s no point in getting lost in the gender maze.

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