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Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury refers to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as ‘Nirbala’

Leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, made yet another controversial remark on Monday when he asked Union Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman if he should refer to her as ‘Nirbala’ instead of ‘Nirmala’ because, he reasoned, the minister allegedly has a hard time speaking her mind.

Chowdhury said to the Finance Minister in Lok Sabha on Monday, “Aapke liye respect toh hai lekin kabhi kabhi sochta hu ki aapko Nirmala Sitharaman ki jagah ‘Nirbala’ Sitharaman kehna theek hoga ke nahi (I do have respect for you but sometimes I wonder if it would be apt to call you ‘Nirbala Sitharaman’ instead of ‘Nirmala Sitharaman’).” After this, he put his reason across for saying so, adding “Aap mantri pad pe toh hai lekin jo aapke man mein hai wo keh bhi paati hai ya nahi (You hold the post of a Minister but I wonder if you have a hard time speaking your mind).”

The Congress leader’s comments brought in a storm of protests from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which claimed that it was disrespectful to speak of a Union Minister in such a manner and demanded an apology, especially considering the fact that Chowdhury had made another controversial remark yesterday. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had on Sunday called Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah ‘ghuspethiye (intruder)’, adding that they have ‘migrated’ from Gujarat to Delhi.

“Amit Shah ji, Narendra Modi ji aap khud ghuspetiye hain. Ghar aapka Gujarat agaye Dilli, aap khud migrant hain,” Chowdhury had said in an interview to news agency ANI on Sunday. The Congress leader’s statement roughly translates as “Mr Amit Shah and Mr Narendra Modi are intruders themselves. Their homes are in Gujarat, but they’ve come to Delhi – they’re migrants themselves.”

That comment, too, had been the subject of much controversy. Union Minister Pralhad Joshi in the Lok Sabha on Monday condemned Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s statement and instead targetted Congress President Sonia Gandhi, supposedly on her Italian lineage, calling her an ‘intruder’ instead. “President of the Congress party ghuspethia hai. If Congress has any sense he (Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury) should apologise. Otherwise, I will demand that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi apologise on his behalf,” Joshi said.

This statement was, however, was taken up as a challenge by Chowdhury who found it only apt to give a fitting response to it. “Yeh humare leader Sonia Gandhi ji ko ghuspethia keh rahe hain (He is referring to our leader Sonia Gandhi as an ‘intruder’),” Chowdhury exclaimed while responding to Joshi’s allegations, “Kya kar rahe ho aap(BJP) log? Agar mera leader hai (ghuspethia) toh apka leader bhi hai (What are you guys (BJP) doing? If my leader is an intruder then your leader is, too).”

All in all, it has been a busy time in the Lok Sabha with our elected representatives to the Parliament accusing each other of being an ‘intruder’ in the country and raining verbal assaults in return. What productive discourse comes of it remains yet to be seen.

Earlier too, the leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, Chowdhury, had been the highlight of controversies during the central government’s move to abrogate Article 370 of the constitution. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had reported;y claimed that taking such a step was not an internal matter of India, but he later said that he was seeking clarification from the government and his statement was misunderstood. 

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today, however, had explained the reasoning behind the government’s move to cut down on corporate taxes. “Keeping in mind the trade war between USA and China, with indications that many of these corporates and multinational companies would want to get out of China, we thought that it was necessary to quickly take a call in reducing the corporate tax,” the Finance Minister said.