Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has apologised to President Droupadi Murmu for calling her “Rashtrapatni” in a media interview earlier this week.
“I am writing to express my regret for having mistakenly used an incorrect word to describe the position you hold. I assure you that it was a slip of the tongue. I apologise and request you to accept the same,” Mr Chowdhury wrote in a letter to President Murmu, the country’s first President from the tribal community.
The BJP had also demanded an apology from Congress chief Sonia Gandhi after her party leader made the comment.
Mr Chowdhury, the leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, had used the “Rashtrapatni” remark while talking to reporters during his party’s protests over a host of issues.
The BJP insisted the comment by Mr Chowdhury was not a slip of the tongue as claimed by the Congress leader.
“It was not a slip of the tongue. If you watch the clip, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury clearly (referred to President Murmu as) Rashtrapati twice, then he called her Rashtrapatni,” Law Minister Kiren Rijiju told news agency ANI. “Such matters should not be taken lightly,” he added.
On Friday, the Congress leader also wrote to Lok Sabha speaker to clarify his stand on the matter. Congress Lok Sabha MP also alleged that Union Minister Smriti Irani was “yelling” the name of President Droupadi Murmu “without prefixing Madame or Smt” during her address in the House, the manner which “amounts to degrading the stature” of the highest office of the country.
“This clearly amounts to degrading the stature of the office of the Hon’ble President. Therefore, I demand that the way Smt. Smriti Irani was addressing the Hon’ble President may be expunged from the proceedings of the House,” he added in the letter.
Earlier Ms Irani had said the Congress should apologise in Parliament, and on the streets of India, to every citizen of India.
“Sonia Gandhi, you sanctioned the humiliation of Droupadi Murmu. Sonia ji sanctioned the humiliation of a woman in the highest constitutional post. Sonia ji sanctioned the humiliation of a poor woman who ascends to the highest Office in this country. You sanctioned the insult of every Indian citizen. You through your male Congress workers and leaders continue to demean the Office of the President of India. Apologise to the nation. Sonia Gandhi, apologise to the tribal, poor and woman of the country,” said Union Minister Smriti Irani in Lok Sabha.
Mr Chowdhury, however, has held on to his claim that the comment was on account of “slip of the tongue” due to language barrier – that he is a Bengali and not proficient in Hindi – which the BJP has punctured as a bad excuse.
When the controversy erupted on Wednesday, Mr Chowdhury had made it clear he would not apologise to the BJP, but would meet with President Murmu and apologise to her directly “a hundred times” if she says she was hurt by his remark.