In a dramatic confrontation in parliament today over Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury calling President Droupadi Murmu “Rashtrapatni”, Congress president Sonia Gandhi walked across the house to speak to a BJP MP. When Smriti Irani reportedly intervened, Sonia Gandhi said “Don’t talk to me”, according to sources.
The sharp exchange took place during a break in Lok Sabha, which had been adjourned amid loud protests by BJP MPs against Sonia Gandhi and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.
“Sonia Gandhi, apologise,” Smriti Irani had said in the house, with members of the ruling BJP holding up placards.
“Sonia Gandhi, you sanctioned the humiliation of Droupadi Murmu. Sonia ji sanctioned humiliation of a woman in the highest constitutional post,” the Union Minister said.
After the Lok Sabha Speaker adjourned the house, Sonia Gandhi was about to leave when she decided to walk to the slogan-shouting BJP MPs. Two Congress MPs were with her.
In a stunning move, the Congress president crossed the floor of the House to speak to BJP MP Rama Devi and reportedly said: “Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had already apologised. Why am I being dragged into this?”
Sources say Smriti Irani interjected and said, “Madam, may I help you? I took your name.”
To which, Sonia Gandhi retorted: “Don’t talk to me.”
The BJP benches erupted with protests, and the opposition members retaliated.
Trinamool Congress MPs and NCP’s Supriya Sule were seen drawing Sonia Gandhi away from the shouting BJP members. Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi later stepped in to defuse the situation.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her retelling of the incident, slammed Sonia Gandhi: “Some of our Lok Sabha MPs felt threatened when Sonia Gandhi came up to our senior leader Rama Devi to find out what was happening during which, one of our members approached there and she (Sonia Gandhi) said – You don’t talk to me – putting our MP down in the house. So instead of remorse from the highest leader of the Congress party, we find greater aggression.”
#WATCH | Some of our Lok Sabha MPs felt threatened when Sonia Gandhi came up to our senior leader Rama Devi to find out what was happening during which, one of our members approached there & she (Sonia Gandhi) said “You don’t talk to me”: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman pic.twitter.com/WxFnT2LTvk
— ANI (@ANI) July 28, 2022
Furious Congress leaders accused Smriti Irani of attacking their party chief.
आज लोकसभा में केंद्रीय मंत्री स्मृति ईरानी ने अमर्यादित और अपमानजनक व्यवहार किया! लेकिन क्या स्पीकर इसकी निंदा करेंगे? क्या नियम सिर्फ विपक्ष के लिए होते हैं?
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) July 28, 2022
“Union Minister Smriti Irani behaved indecently and abusively in Lok Sabha today! But will the speaker condemn it? Are rules only for the opposition,” tweeted Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.