Sonia Gandhi, Smriti Irani face-off sparks war of words

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Other Congress leaders present at the spot have claimed that Irani pointed a finger at Gandhi and said, “How dare you, don’t behave like this. This is not your party office”…reports Asian Lite News

Union minister Smriti Irani heckled Sonia Gandhi and shouted at her, pointing a finger, the Congress said on Thursday after the exchange between the two leaders set off a political storm. Many versions are circulating about the dramatic exchange — most of them from BJP leaders who claim Sonia Gandhi had rebuffed Irani when she tried to cut into her conversation with the BJP’s Rama Devi.

In a statement, Jairam Ramesh — Congress MP and the party’s General Secretary-in-Charge of Communications — said Smriti Irani had “behaved inappropriately” with Sonia Gandhi and used “derogatory terms”.

“Sonia Gandhi was talking to a BJP MP, Rama Devi. Smriti Irani came to Sonia Gandhi and spoke abusive words in a very derogatory tone. When Sonia-ji politely told her, ‘I am not talking to you, I am talking to another MP,’ Smriti Irani shouted, ‘You don’t know me, who I am’. MPs of many other parties and Congress MPs are witnesses to this incident,” read Ramesh’s statement in Hindi.

“What kind of behaviour is this? Can an MP not even talk to a fellow MP? Smriti Irani can make her point in a political way. Why is she taking such a heckling attitude with a senior MP and a party president?” Ramesh added.

Other Congress leaders present at the spot have claimed that Irani pointed a finger at Gandhi and said, “How dare you, don’t behave like this. This is not your party office”.

The exchange took place after a heated Lok Sabha session where Irani had accused Sonia Gandhi of sanctioning her party MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s “Rashtrapatni” remark on President Droupadi Murmu. Calling her “anti-tribal, anti-Dalit and anti-woman”, she had demanded that the Congress chief apologise.

After the session was adjourned, Sonia Gandhi crossed the floor and spoke to Rama Devi, pointing out that Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has apologised and questioned what was her fault, sources said. That was when Smriti Irani reportedly tried to cut into the conversation, saying “Madam, may I help you? I took your name”. Sources said Sonia Gandhi had then retorted, “Don’t talk to me”.

Trinamool’s Mahua Moitra, one of the MPs who witnessed the exchange, tweeted that Gandhi was heckled “pack-wolf style”.

“Was in Lok Sabha when 75-year-old lady senior leader encircled and heckled pack-wolf style when all she did was walk over and speak (masked) to another senior lady panel chairperson. “Disgusted to read BJP lies and false version in press,” her post read.

Chowdhury has apologised for his “Rashtrapatni” remark, saying it was a “slip of tongue” owing to language barrier. He said he would meet Ms Murmu and apologise to the President “a hundred times” if she says she was hurt by his remark.

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