Bengal minister sparks row with remarks on President

Wednesday 16th November 2022 05:53 EST

Nandigram/Kolkata: Bengal prisons minister Akhil Giri was forced to apologise within hours of making boorish and misogynistic remarks about President Droupadi Murmu’s looks at a meeting in Nandigram that went viral and triggered social media outrage.

Trinamool Congress distanced itself from Giri’s statement, calling “such misogyny unacceptable”, while opposition BJP hit the streets across the state and demanded his resignation. CPM too condemned Giri’s remarks.

BJP’s Bishnupur MP Saumitra Khan lodged a complaint with the national commission for women, prompting it to ask Giri to tender “an unconditional apology” for his comments. The commission asked the director general of police to initiate a probe into the comments and take appropriate steps.

At a meeting in Nandigram, Giri started off protesting against state assembly opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari’s frequent jibes about his looks and suddenly shifted to Murmu: “He says I am ugly. How beautiful are you? We don’t judge anyone by their appearance, we respect the office of the President. But how does our President look?”

Giri then turned back his attention to Adhikari and his family: “He calls me a half pants minister. If I am a half pants minister, then what was your father, an underwear minister? I don’t have any minister above me in my department. But your father had.” Giri, 62, is not new to controversies and he has been a virulent critic of the Adhikari clan even when family patriarch Sisir Adhikari called the shots in East Midnapore.

Locked in a bitter turf battle with Adhikari, the TMC minister later blamed his “momentary lapse of judgement” on his “anger. . . due to repeated attacks” about his looks by Adhikari. “I respect the Constitution, I am loyal to it. I have complete faith in it. I also have deepest respect for the chair of the President, who is the head of the Constitution. But, over the past few days and months, I have been subjected to ridicule, humiliation and abuse by…Adhikari. I am old and I was angry. Whatever I said was said in anger. . . , which was a momentary lapse of judgement,” Giri said.

“I too am a minister and have taken oath under the Constitution. Isn’t attacking me also disrespecting the Constitution?” TMC dissociated itself from Giri’s remarks, saying it “neither supported nor took responsibility” for such comments.

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