New Delhi: Both the BJP and the Congress on Friday hardened their combative stance over the political row that followed Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s "rashtrapatni" remark for President Droupadi Murmu. While the Congress continued with its demand for an apology from the government after the face-off between its president Sonia Gandhi and Union minister Smriti Irani, the BJP maintained that the Lok Sabha will only function after the Congress president apologises for the party leader’s remark against the President.
Amid the pandemonium in Parliament, Union home minister Amit Shah called on the President, even as the Congress MPs staged a protest in front of the Gandhi statue in Parliament. The Opposition party has alleged that its president was subjected to "brutal heckling, verbal assault and physical intimidation" in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.
A day after leading the charge against the Congress in the Lok Sabha, Irani also met Murmu. The BJP had accused Chowdhury of hurling a "deliberate sexist insult" at the President.
After a near washout of House proceedings for two weeks, the Lok Sabha is likely to have a debate on price rise on Monday, followed by the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, political sources said, as Mr Chowdhury on Friday tendered a written apology to the President for his remark.
In his letter to the President, he said he mistakenly used an incorrect word for her and it was a slip of the tongue.
Parliament's proceedings were disrupted for the second consecutive day over the issue. BJP MP Nishikant Dubey said that the Lok Sabha will function only after the Congress president apologises for Mr Chowdhury's remark against the President.
"The BJP wouldn't tolerate the insult of the tribal community. Lok Sabha will only function after the apology of Mrs Gandhi," tweeted Mr Dubey, claiming that the Congress has a history of "misusing democracy and Parliament".
He pointed out that in 2012 the Congress had given 10 notices against then BJP president Rajnath Singh for "just speaking about the family’s (Gandhi family) trust."
Earlier in the day, the Congress MPs met in the Parliament complex and decided on their strategy at a meeting of the Congress parliamentary party chaired by Mrs Gandhi, after which they caused disruptions in both houses of Parliament with slogans against Ms Irani and demanded her sacking.
The Congress has accused the women and child development minister of "heckling" Sonia Gandhi inside the Lower House." The Opposition party has already registered their complaint against Ms Irani with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and asked for the matter to be referred to the privileges committee for action against her.
The Congress also took strong objection to the manner in which Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Piyush Goyal made references to Mrs Gandhi in the Rajya Sabha.
The Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge sought to raise the issue in the House, but was not allowed to speak during the Zero Hour.
In a letter to the Rajya Sabha Chairman on the issue, Kharge referred to Ms Sitharaman and Mr Goyal's remarks in Rajya Sabha and maintained that it is a time-honoured convention that reflections or critical remarks should not be made on the other House or members of the other House. He also said that no person who is not a member of the House can be referred to in a derogatory manner or in any other way afflicting his or her reputation.
Kharge demanded that remarks made by the two Union ministers in the Upper House should be expunged and the two should tender an apology for "violations of the sacrosanct conventions of the House."
In another related development, police in Madhya Pradesh’s Dindori district lodged a complaint against Chowdhury, based on a complaint by BJP workers. The FIR has been filed under IPC Sections 153 (B) (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505 (A) (statements conducing to public mischief)....