'Sexist' remarks: Azam Khan asked to apologise before Lok Sabha Speaker on July 29

Leaders across party lines are of the view that a message should be sent that the House has zero tolerance towards such acts which lower the dignity and honour of women.

Published: 26th July 2019 08:17 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th July 2019 06:23 PM   |  A+A-

BJP MP Rama Devi (L) and Samajwadi Party MP Azam Khan. (File | PTI)

By Online Desk

NEW DELHI: Samajwadi Party MP Azam Khan was informed on Friday to appear before Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on July 29 and tender an unconditional apology in the House for his sexist remarks against BJP MP Rama Devi, sources said.

On Friday evening, the Lok Sabha speaker's office reached out to Khan and informed him to appear before Birla on Monday, they said.

According to the sources, if Khan fails to apologise, a resolution authorising the speaker to take 'exemplary action' against him will be passed.

Leaders across party lines are of the view that a message should be sent that the House has zero-tolerance towards such acts which lower the dignity and honour of women, they added.

The resolution is likely to be moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi and is expected to be supported by leaders of all political parties.

Cutting across party lines, members in the Lok Sabha condemned the remarks when Rama Devi was officiating the proceedings in the lower house on Thursday and demanded exemplary action against him.

There was also a demand for Khan's suspension from the House.

Azam's remarks were dubbed as malicious, having double-meaning and a blot on all legislators by the ministers and MPs who spoke after BJP's Sanghmitra Maurya raised the issue during the Zero Hour.

Several members including from the BJP, Congress, NCP, Trinamool Congress, DMK and BJD said a strong message should be sent by the House against such conduct.

Outside Parliament, a meeting of floor leaders of all parties chaired by Speaker Birla was held during which it was decided that Khan should apologise or face action.

Leaders across party lines are of the view that a message should be sent that the House has zero tolerance towards such acts which lower the dignity and honour of women, they added.

READ HERE | Azam Khan's 'sexist' remark: Women MPs demand apology, Lok Sabha Speaker to meet party leaders

Leaders cut across party lines to condemn Azam Khan

Several women MPs have also written to the Speaker demanding stringent action against Khan.

Rama Devi said he should be suspended for the entire five years from the current Lok Sabha.

In a tweet, BSP supremo Mayawati said Khan should not only apologise in Parliament but to all women.

"This is a blot on all legislators including men," Textiles Minister Smriti Irani said in the Lok Sabha, as she attacked SP leader Akhilesh Yadav for supporting Khan in the House on Thursday.

It was repugnant that a leader stood in solidarity with a "lech", she said.

Khan and Akhilesh Yadav were not present in the House.

If Khan had made these comments outside Parliament, then police would have come to the woman's rescue, Irani said and urged political parties to rise above political differences and appealed to the Speaker to take action.

A member cannot abuse the privilege Parliament gives him to make such comments and get away, she said.

Stating that his party is against any kind of misbehaviour against women, Leader of the Congress Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury referred to his party leader Sonia Gandhi being called "Italian puppet and daugher of Italy" by BJP leaders in the past, remarks which drew strong protest from the members of treasury benches who said the issue should not be politicised.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman wondered why there was a "dilemma" and "hesitation" in taking a stand on the issue, in an apparent dig at the opposition party which objected to her remarks.

Sitharaman said Khan's comments were utterly condemnable and said the House was looking to the Speaker to take exemplary action.

Chowdhury said the person at the centre of the issue should also be heard, referring to Khan.

He suggested that the matter be sent to privilege or ethics committee.

He later agreed with the prevailing view that the Speaker should take a call.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said either Khan should tender an apology or he be suspended from the House.

Trinamool Congress member Kalyan Banerjee said a person who does not show respect to women does not know Indian culture.

NCP's Supriya Sule said she hangs her head in shame at Khan's offensive language and called for strict punishment.

His behaviour was not tolerable and members should speak in one voice, she said.

JD(U)'s Lalan Singh said the Speaker should take strongest action so that such behaviour is not repeated.

DMK's Kanimozhi wondered how women would be treated outside Parliament when they are "insulted" in such a way inside.

Apna Dal's Anupriya Patel said the entire nation is ashamed.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said the House should leave the matter to the Speaker.

BJD's B Mahtab said Khan's remarks were "unpardonable" and deserved exemplary action. "It was one of the darkest days," he added.

Union Minister Arjun Meghwal said Khan's comments had a double-meaning and he has a history of making such remarks outside the House as well.

Actor and Trinamool Congress member Mimi Chakraborty, who is a first time MP, said whatever happened on Thursday was shameful and cannot be part of her learning exercise.

AIMIM Asaduddin Owaisi said he respected the sentiments of the House but took a dig at the government asking about the status of a Group of Ministers, which was constituted following a wave of allegations of sexual harassment against women in the "Me Too" movement, including against the then Union minister and BJP leader M J Akbar.

Jaya Prada tears apart Khan

Jaya Prada on Friday slammed SP MP Azam Khan for his sexist remarks against BJP MP Rama Devi in the Lok Sabha, saying he has insulted the House and he should be disqualified.

Khan, who is known for making controversial statements, had also made objectionable remarks against Jaya Prada during the Lok Sabha polls.

Jaya Prada, who had unsuccessfully contested the general elections against Khan from Rampur, said it is not a new thing for him to make such comments about women.

Khan has an "unhealthy mindset" and one does not know what remarks he will make, the actor-turned-politician said in a statement.

"He does not know that Lok Sabha is a temple to which leaders are elected and take up people's problems. Azam Khan has insulted the House by making indecent comments," Jaya Prada said.

The House should take action against him for his remarks, the former MP said.

"He should be disqualified from Lok Sabha. He should be taught a lesson that those who insult Parliament must be kept out," she said.

What Azam Khan said

Participating in the debate on the triple talaq bill, Khan on Thursday referred to the intervention of Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and read out a couplet -  "Tu idhar-udhar ki baat na kar " (do not divert from the topic).

At this, Rama Devi, who was presiding over the proceedings, asked Khan not to "look here and there" and address the Chair.

To which, Azam Khan responded by saying ''Aap mujhe itni acchi lagti hain ki mera mann karta hai ki aap ki aankhon mein aankhein dale rahoon'. (I like you so much that I feel like looking into your eyes)"

This triggered acrimonious scenes. The remarks were expunged from the records.

(With agency inputs)

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