Congress raises heat against Irani with MPs’ protest in Parliament

New Delhi: The Congress on Friday stepped up its attack against Union minister Smriti Irani for having a face-off with Sonia Gandhi earlier in the lower house over Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s “rashtrapatni” remark and demanded action against her.

Congress MPs staged a protest in front of the Gandhi statue in Parliament complex demanding an apology from the government for Irani’s confrontation with Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday.

The Congress MPs met in the Parliament and decided on their strategy at a meeting of Congress Parliamentary Party chaired by Sonia Gandhi, after which they caused disruption in both houses of Parliament with slogans against Irani and demanding her sacking as a minister.

The Congress has accused Irani of heckling Sonia Gandhi inside the lower house.

The party has already complained against Irani to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla with a demand that the matter 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 party chief Sonia Gandhi in the Rajya Sabha.

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’ under Rule 258.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said, “Leader of the Opposition Kharge ji not allowed to raise a legitimate point of order in the Rajya Sabha because of hungama by BJP MPs and Ministers. Adjourned till 12 noon.”

Referring to Sitharaman and Goyal’s remarks in Rajya Sabha, Kharge said 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.

On Thursday, the row that began with Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury calling President Droupadi Murmu “rashtrapatni”, went notches up when the party accused BJP MPs of subjecting its president to “brutal heckling, verbal assault and physical intimidation” in the Lok Sabha.

Congress MPs, protesting against the alleged misbehaviour with Gandhi, were joined by their colleagues from the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML).

Chowdhury’s remark on India’s first tribal president has drawn a fresh battleline between the Congress and the BJP, which too has demanded an apology from Sonia Gandhi.

As the Lok Sabha adjourned soon after 12 noon on Thursday, Gandhi walked across to the treasury benches and sought to know from BJP member Rama Devi why she was dragged into the issue.

Irani intervened and was seen gesturing towards Gandhi and apparently protesting against Chowdhury’s remark. Gandhi tried to ignore Irani’s protestations, but was soon seen gesturing towards the minister and speaking angrily. (PTI)

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