New Delhi: Three days after he made sexist comments against BJP member Rama Devi in the Lok Sabha, Samajwadi Party MP Azam Khan apologised for his words in the House, saying he had no intention to insult the Chair or any member. However, Rama Devi asserted Mr Khan had a “bad habit” of making such comments, which needs to change.
Mr Khan’s apology came as soon as the House met for the day. Speaker Om Birla asked Mr Khan to speak, after which he tendered an apology.
“Honorable Speaker, Sir, the issue that has come before you concerning me... (I want to say that) I neither had such a feeling towards the Chair, nor will I have. I have been parliamentary affairs minister twice, four times a minister, MLA for nine times, and a Rajya Sabha member. The entire House is aware of my speech and my conduct. Despite this, if the Chair feels that I have done something wrong, I apologise for that,” Mr Khan said.
Rama Devi was in the Chair on July 25 when Mr Khan had made the objectionable comment against her. The moment Mr Khan sat down after apologising, Rama Devi and the other treasury bench members said that Mr Khan’s apology was not properly audible and he should repeat his words.
Parliamentary affairs minister Prahlad Joshi said Mr Khan should apologise for insulting Rama Devi as well all the women of India and end the matter. To this, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav tried to intervene and deflect the topic by raking up the Unnao rape survivor’s car accident. “You see this... but see what happened with our daughter from Unnao... BJP people say ‘Jai Shri Ram’, they don’t say ‘Sita Ram’,” he said.
As the treasury benches continued to ask Mr Khan to repeat his words, the Speaker asked Mr Khan to do so. Mr Khan said he had earlier made it clear that Rama Devi was like his sister. “Whether you say that once or repeat it a thousand times, the thing will remain the same. I had said if any member felt that my sentiments for the Chair was not appropriate, that cannot be possible.
Yet, if there is still any such feeling, then I apologise,” Mr Khan said.
Rama Devi refused to accept the apology, saying: “Azam Khanji’s remark was seen by the entire nation. And the women and men of this country are hurt by his words. He will never understand the importance of this as he keeps making such statements outside also. His has this bad habit, which needs to change.”
“Inki aadat bigadi hui hai, zaroorat se zada bigadi hui hai,” an angry Rama Devi said, adding she was a senior MP and had not come to Parliament to hear such words. “I have worked hard and struggled to come here as the voice of the people,” she said. She even snubbed SP chief Akhilesh Yadav when he tried to intervene.
On his part, Speaker Om Birla said members should be careful about what the say, and maintain decorum so that no such incident takes place in future. “This House belongs to all members. This can be run only with the cooperation of members. The Chair belongs to you all, and its dignity should be maintained. We all should be careful in uttering words and ensure no such incident takes place in the future,” Mr Birla said....