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‘She is like my sister’: Congress’ Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury apologises in LS for ‘Nirbala’ remark against FM Sitharaman

Two days after making a controversial remark on union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, leader of Congress party in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Wednesday apologised in the Lower House of the Parliament. 

“During a discussion in the House I had addressed our Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as Nirbala. Nirmala ji is like my sister and I am like her brother. If my words have hurt her then I am sorry,” he said.

On Monday, he had 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.

“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),” he had said.

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.

Sitharaman had dismissed Chowdhury’s remarks saying all women in BJP were ‘Sabla’ (strong).

“Not so much talking as woman, I am Nirmala and will remain so. We will remain Sabla. In our party, all are Sabla,” she had said adding that there was no question of being ‘Nirbala’.

The Lower House of the Parliament also witnesses calls for an apology as BJP members asked him to withdraw his remarks. BJP MP Poonam Mahajan said that the Congress leader’s comments were regrettable and they reflected his patriarchal mindset. 

She further said that the Congress member was working for a family and not the country.