Face-off between Sonia and Smriti in the Lok Sabha as BJP demands apologies from Congress chief

Sonia Gandhi and Union minister Smriti Irani sparred in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, adding fuel to the already-flaming argument over Congressman Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s use of the term “rashtrapatni” rather than “rashtrapati” to refer to President Droupadi Murmu. Chowdhury’s use of the term “rashtrapatni” on a Hindi TV channel on Wednesday sparked a spat between the ruling BJP and She abruptly turned around and moved over to the seats near the Treasury, where she addressed Rama Devi, asking, “Adhir has already apologized, why am I being dragged into this?” Irani interrupted at that point and was observed making violent gestures while claiming to be the one who had appropriated Gandhi’s name. Gandhi initially attempted to ignore Irani’s objections, but soon began pointing violently and screaming out loud. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman also asserted that Gandhi warned a BJP member not to approach her, admonishing Irani fiercely not to interact with her. Women MPs Jyotsna Mahant (Congress), Supriya Sule (NCP), Trinamool members Aparupa Poddar, Mahua Moitra, and Mala Roy, among others, were seen escorting the Congress president away from the treasury benches as BJP members flocked to Rama Devi and Gandhi. Chhattisgarh MP Mahant, who was standing directly behind Gandhi, accused Irani of insulting Gandhi. Smriti Irani ji approached Sonia ji after she crossed to the other side and began speaking to her in an unpleasant manner while pointing with her finger. Gandhi is our leader, older than we are, and the ex-prime minister’s wife. Respect for her is due. After the incident, Gandhi told the media that “Adhir has already apologized,” before going to the Congress parliamentary office. BJP women members were seated in the front rows of the Lok Sabha as they led the protests in the House against Chowdhury’s remarks. Later, Rama Devi told the media that Gandhi asked why her name was being brought up. The Bihar BJP MP alleged Gandhi informed her that it was her fault for choosing Chowdhury to be the Congress leader in the Lok Sabha. Moitra asserted that the BJP was spreading false information about Gandhi harassing BJP MPs in the Lok Sabha. Later, she wrote on Twitter, “Was in Lok Sabha when 75-year-old lady senior leader circled & heckled pack-wolf style when all she did was walk over & speak (masked) to another senior lady panel chairperson.” Disgusted to read BJP lies and false version in press, Sitharaman later accused Gandhi of using a “threatening tone” when speaking with BJP members. Sitharaman asserted that Gandhi told BJP members “you do not talk to me” when they inquired about the topic under discussion. In reference to the episode in the Lok Sabha chamber, Sitharaman stated, “Instead of submitting an apology, she was deceiving, stating that Chowdhury had already apologised. Instead of an apology, she is resorting to threats. Former union minister Milind Deora said he had never witnessed Gandhi being impolite or rude, even when provoked.Congress leader Jairam Ramesh responded by calling Irani’s actions “outrageous,” later tweeting: “Atrocious and outrageous behavior by Union minister Smriti Irani in the Lok Sabha today! But will she be pulled up by the Speaker? Are rules only meant for the Opposition?” Deora wrote on Twitter, “She has and will always survive. This is not the first time that she has been personally targeted and of late, unjustly, both inside & outside Parliament.

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