Union minister Giriraj Singh on Monday expressed regret on the floor of Lok Sabha over his racist comment against Sonia Gandhi after the Congress created a ruckus over the matter and forced a brief adjournment of the House.
The expression of regret came after the opposition demanded that Singh be sacked as a minister for his comment that the Congress made Gandhi the president of the party because of 'her white skin'.
"It was not my intention to offend anybody. If my comments have caused any hurt I express regret," said Singh.
Watch: Giriraj Singh expressing regret over his comments in Lok Sabha
As soon as the House assembled for the second part of the Budget session after a month-long break, Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia raised the matter.
"People are making statements against women. Central minister Giriraj Singh had made a derogatory comment about Sonia Gandhi. These kind of comments are not only against the women of the country, but the entire country should hang their heads in shame," said Scindia.
"It is an insult to the Nigerians also... the Nigerian high commissioner has also protested," Scindia added.
"We not only want an apology, but also resignation of the minister. The Prime Minister should also apologise," he said.
While rejecting a variety of adjournment motions moved by Congress, AIADMK and Left members, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan allowed Scindia to raise the issue of Singh's remarks.
She said she was also hurt by the remarks and such statements should not be made.
Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said Bharatiya Janata Paty (BJP) MPs and ministers have continuously been making unwarranted and irresponsible statements. Such remarks create fissures in the society and hurt the harmony, said Kharge.
At one point, Kharge got offended when his mike was switched off.
"Whenever I speak, the mike is switched off... I have to protest," he said.
Both Gandhi and Singh were present in the House.
Parliamentary afairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the government and the BJP did not aprove of such remarks but there was no need to drag the Prime Minister in the picture.
Kharge said the PM was in picture as the remarks have been made by a minister which makes it a collective responsibility of the council of ministers.
"PM is the leader of the House...," he said.
Speaker Mahajan condemned the comments, but said the issue could be discussed later.
As Mahajan took up the Question Hour, Congress members trooped into the Well and started shouting slogans forcing her to adjourn the House for 20 minutes. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi entered the House just as it was adjourned.
As soon as the House met again at 11:45am, Singh rose to say that his intention was not to insult anyone but if his remarks have hurt anyone he regretted it.
The minister of state for micro, small and medium enterprises was under fire for his racist barb at Gandhi. He had kicked up a row by asking whether Congress would have accepted Sonia Gandhi's leadership if she were not white skinned.
"Had Rajiv Gandhi married a Nigerian woman and if she was not a white-skinned woman, would the Congress have then accepted her (Sonia's) leadership," Singh had said earlier this month?.
(With PTI inputs)