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Odisha BJP MLA Apologises for Making Controversial Remarks about Muslim Women in Assembly

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

With Bishnu Charan Sethi tendering an apology, the stalemate in the state Assembly on the issue ended. The Congress MLAs had created unruly scenes in the House on both days demanding that the Dhamnagar MLA withdraw his “anti-women” statements.

Bhubaneswar: An Odisha BJP MLA on Friday apologised for his controversial remarks about Muslim women made during a discussion in the state Assembly on triple talaq a day earlier.

Bishnu Charan Sethi, also the BJP’s Odisha vice-president and the party's deputy leader in the Assembly, was forced to retract his comments after hundreds of workers of the Opposition Congress staged a protest rally and a demonstration in his home district of Bhadrak on Friday.

With Sethi tendering an apology, the stalemate in the state Assembly on the issue ended. The Congress MLAs had created unruly scenes in the House on both days demanding that the Dhamnagar MLA withdraw his “anti-women” statements.

Muslims comprise a significant part of the population of Dhamnagar constituency, which is reserved for Scheduled Castes. The nearby district headquarters, Bhadrak, is estimated to have at least one-third Muslim population. The town was in the news a few years ago for incidents of communal violence.

The 58-year-old MLA, who is known for his literary works, said his remarks were not intended to hurt the sentiments of any religious community. He requested Speaker Surya Narayan Patro to expunge the statements he had made in the Assembly on the issue.

“The objectionable part has been expunged. The media cannot report it from now on. Sethi’s apology and my order to expunge it can be reported,” said the Speaker.

Sethi made the remarks during the Zero Hour in the Assembly, sparking objections from several MLAs of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and vocal protests by Congress legislators. The protests had drowned the House in pandemonium and the Speaker had to adjourn the proceedings several times.

“It (apology) was not under any pressure. It is now prohibited (by the Speaker) to talk about the statement outside the Assembly. I apologised after considering various issues. I had made the statements by citing certain sources and surveys," said Sethi.

Senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra said it would have been better if Sethi had apologised immediately on Thursday. “The media has already taken this issue to all parts of the country and abroad. This apology is a welcome step, but it was certainly delayed,” said Mishra, the Congress Legislature Party leader.

first published:August 02, 2019, 20:26 IST