Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani seek ‘exemplary action’ against Azam Khan
The row over Samajwadi Party lawmaker Azam Khan’s sexist remark in the Lok Sabha escalated into a huge firestorm on Friday when lawmakers from most opposition and ruling parties demanded action against the Uttar Pradesh politician described by some, as a serial offender.
There were some suggestions that Azam Khan should be suspended if he didn’t come out with a clear-cut apology.
The call on how to proceed against the lawmaker will be taken by Speaker Om Birla who announced that he would call a meeting of leaders of political parties to discuss the episode before arriving at a decision.
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Azam Khan and his boss Akhilesh Yadav weren’t in the House when members flagged his remarks soon after question hour.
Union Minister Smriti Irani led the charge. “Let us not reduce this to a problem of just women. This is a blot on all legislators including men,” woman and child development minister Smriti Irani said.
“You cannot misbehave with a woman and get away with it by just dramatizing it. We cannot remain silent spectators,” she said.
She called upon the house to “speak in one voice that this is unacceptable”.
And they did.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad demanded that Azam Khan apologise or face suspension.
Trinamool Congress lawmaker Mimi Chakraborty didn’t recommend any specific action against Azam Khan but urged the Speaker to make sure it was, as she described it, “something big”.
“Nobody can stand in 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,” she said.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Azam Khan’s remark was utterly condemnable and sought exemplary action against him. “I thank every member who supported a woman. (But) To politicise an issue related to women is outrageous, we have to stand together. Let us stand together and speak in one voice which is what I thought was happening here. But why the hesitation, why the dilemma?” she said, widely perceived as a reference to the Congress’ stand.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress, who had spoken earlier, had underlined that his party was against disrespecting women at any place but made it clear that this wasn’t the first time. “There have been incidents when Sonia Gandhi Ji was called ‘Italy ki katputli’ etc. in the Parliament,” he said.
Having made the point, the Congress leader later clarified that his party was all for action against Azam Khan. “You do what is right,” Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, insisting that his party wouldn’t allow the Lok Sabha’s prestige to be lowered. “Everyone should be respected,” he said.