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Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman.

New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday demanded an apology from Congress president Sonia Gandhi for Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the party’s top leader in Lok Sabha hurling a “deliberate sexist insult” by calling the President of India Droupadi Murmu “rashtrapatni”.

“Chowdhury’s comments were not a slip of the tongue. It was a deliberate sexist insult against the President,” Sitharaman said, making a brief statement in Rajya Sabha.

She said at a time the entire country is rejoicing at the selection of a self-made woman from a tribal background as the President, “for the leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha to call her ‘rashtrapatni’ in a ‘pati-patni’ (husband-wife) kind of a level, has insulted the President of India.”

The finance minister, who just recovered from Covid-19 infection, demanded an apology from the Congress president.

“I demand an apology from the president of the Congress party who herself is a woman,” she said.

Gandhi appointed Chowdhury as the leader in Lok Sabha to speak and he has insulted the President, she said. “Sonia Gandhi should come before the nation and apologise to the Rashtrapati and also to the entire country for the insult by her own leader in the Lok Sabha.”

Chouwdhry’s comments were not a “deliberate ploy to insult” the President and it is unacceptable, she said.

Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said nobody is supposed to make any derogatory comments against the President of India.

“Making such comments is bad,” he said. “I don’t know why it has happened and it is wrong.”

He said it was discussed even in the Constituent Assembly and Rashtrapati was a settled title to be used.

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