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India

When Smriti Irani Countered Sexist and Casteist Jibes In Parliament

The tone in which Irani spoke was so loud that Congress leaders alleged accused BJP MP’s of ‘heckling’ Gandhi ‘brutally’. All this had taken place after the assembly was adjourned on Thursday following the din in the Lok Sabha.

Irani was a firebrand in her speech when she spoke at length on the issue (Photo Credit: PTI/File)
Irani was a firebrand in her speech when she spoke at length on the issue (Photo Credit: PTI/File)

A massive political slugfest has followed Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s remark where he called the newly elected President of India, Draupadi Murmu, the ‘Rashtrapatni’ of the country.

While most of the BJP leaders sought an apology from the leader in question, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani led a fierce speech against Chowdhury and especially Congress leader Sonia Gandhi accusing her and her party of “sanctioning an insult against a poor tribal woman”.

Irani was a firebrand in her speech when she spoke at length on the issue. But her anger escalated after a series of arguments reportedly took place within Parliament, where according to Congress, Sonia Gandhi had excused herself from Irani while reaching out to the protesting women MPs of BJP. 

Congress sources have suggested that Gandhi was trying to reach out to BJP MP Rama Devi who is also one of the presiding officers for the Lok Sabha. They say that Gandhi was there to ask the women BJP members why her name was being drawn into the remark made by a different member.

They say that while talking to Rama Devi, Irani intervened, on which Gandhi had told her that she was speaking to a different member. This had reportedly infuriated the actor turned politician. According to party sources, Irani had countered the 76-year-old Congress veteran saying, “How can you talk to me like that? You don’t know who I am.”

The tone in which Irani spoke was so loud that Congress leaders accused BJP MPs of “heckling” Gandhi “brutally”. All this had taken place after the House was adjourned on Thursday following the din in the Lok Sabha.

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But this is not the first time, Irani has been loud in Parliament. After Irani contested from the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency, which was a Congress bastion, she had said in Parliament that Congress was trying to “hang her” simply for contesting from Amethi. In a shouting tone, she had said in the Lok Sabha that she was being “crucified for criticizing Rahul”.

Later, in a different case, following allegations of her insensitivity towards the death of a Dalit student, Rohit Vemula, Irani said in Parliament: “People are saying that I favour or cause hurt to people purely on the basis of their caste. My name is Irani, you cannot say what caste I belong to.” 

“I’m taking it personally because it is natural to be angry when you are accusing me, who has given birth to someone, of murder,” she told the INC members who were protesting against her when Vemula was killed. She was the HRD minister back then.

In 2019 as well, Irani was very vocal in criticising Samajwadi party MP Azam Khan when he directed a couplet at then speaker Rama Devi which many found sexist and thus objectionable.

While addressing Khan, when Devi asked him to speak facing the chair and not the ruling party, Khan had said, “Aap mujhe itni achchi lagti hain ki mera mann karta hai ki aap ki aankhon mein aankhein dale rahoon [I like you so much that I wish to look into your eyes and keep looking at you].”

This too caused an uproar when Irani came all guns blazing at Khan in Lok Sabha. }This is not a House where men come to gaze into the eyes of any woman. It is a privilege to speak in this House. If such disrespectful remarks were made against a woman outside, then she would have sought police protection, and even got it…. We cannot stay quiet and watch,” she had said in the parliament.

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