Following demands of apology and action over the “sexist remark” made by Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan against Bihar MP Rama Devi on Thursday, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said he will hold a meeting with leaders of all parties in this regard. “I will hold a meeting with leaders of all parties and then make a decision,” Birla said Friday.
Union Ministers Smriti Irani, Nirmala Sitharaman and Ravi Shankar Prasad were among the leaders who demanded an apology from the SP leader in Lok Sabha. While Prasad demanded Khan’s suspension from the House, Irani called it a “blot” on all legislators. “Azam Khan should either apologise or he should be suspended from House,” Prasad said.
Irani said, “This is a blot on all legislators including men. We cannot remain silent spectators to it. We have to speak in one voice that this is unacceptable.”
“The entire nation watched yesterday what happened. This House passed the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Bill. I appeal to all to speak in one voice- You cannot misbehave with a woman and get away with it by just dramatizing it,” she added.
Also, demanding an exemplary action against Khan, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “It is very encouraging to see everyone stand up and speak in once voice condemning what happened yesterday. We look towards you (LS Speaker) for exemplary action against him.”
“To politicise an issue related to women is outrageous, we have to stand together so why the hesitation in some? Why the dilemma? Why add riders? I am not naming anyone for ppl( pointing towards Congress MPs) to interrupt my speech,” the defence minister said.
Cutting across party lines, several MPs condemned Azam Khan’s remarks and demanded strict action against him.
Asserting that the Congress party is against disrespect of women, party leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, “Congress party is against disrespect of women. There have been incidents when Sonia Gandhi Ji was called ‘Italy ki kathputli’ etc. in Parliament.”
On the other hand, Trinamool Congress MP Mimi Chakraborty added: “Nobody can stand the Parliament and tell a woman “look into my eyes and talk.” Speaker sir, all women here are expecting something big from you on this.”
On Thursday, former Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan also said that there should be a training session for people like Azam Khan so that they can learn how to conduct themselves in Parliament. “It is not (only) a matter of dignity of a woman or a man, Khan made an objectionable comment which hurt the prestige and traditions of the entire Parliament,” PTI quoted Mahajan as saying.
Asked what action should be taken against Khan, the former Speaker said, “Only suspension from Parliament for a few days will not suffice. There is a need for a seven-day special training for the people like him, so that they know how an MP should behave in the House. Khan should accept that he has violated parliamentary traditions and seek apology from the chair. It should also be considered that unless he seeks an apology, he should not be allowed to speak in the House.”
“After making objectionable remarks, Khan started terming the chair (Rama Devi) as his sister. But the sher-o-shayri (urdu verse) which Khan recited in Parliament is not addressed to a sister,” Mahajan added.
Mahajan also expressed disappointment over the reaction of SP president Akhilesh Yadav.
The Lok Sabha Thursday witnessed high drama during the debate on Triple Talaq Bill when Khan made certain objectionable remarks against Rama Devi who was presiding over the proceedings, leading to an uproar with union ministers pressing for an apology from the SP leader.
Rama Devi had asked Khan to address the chair and not to look at other members.