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4-min read

Lok Sabha to Pass Resolution Seeking 'Exemplary Action' Against Azam Khan over Sexist Remarks in Parliament

During the Zero Hour, Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani said Khan's remarks in the Lok Sabha on Thursday during a debate on the Triple Talaq Bill were a 'blot' on all legislators.


Updated:July 26, 2019, 4:33 PM IST
Lok Sabha to Pass Resolution Seeking 'Exemplary Action' Against Azam Khan over Sexist Remarks in Parliament
File photo of former UP minister Azam Khan

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha is likely to unanimously pass a resolution authorising the Speaker to take action against the Samajwadi Party's Azam Khan over his sexist and misogynistic remarks against Bihar BJP MP Rama Devi.

Azam's remarks to Devi when she was in the Chair during a discussion on the Triple Talaq Bill on Thursday were slammed as double-meaning, malicious, utterly condemnable and a blot on all legislators by the ministers and MPs who spoke after BJP's Sanghmitra Maurya raised the issue during the Zero Hour.

Several members from various parties, including the BJP, Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP(, Trinamool Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and Biju Janata Dal (BJD), said a strong message should be sent by the House against such conduct. But there were also some heated exchanges between Congress and BJP MPs during the proceedings.

During the Zero Hour on Friday, Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani said Khan's remarks in Lok Sabha on Thursday during the debate on the Triple Talaq Bill were a "blot" on all legislators. "This is a blot on all legislators, including men. We cannot remain silent spectators to it. We have to speak in one voice that this is unacceptable," she said, also attacking SP leader Akhilesh Yadav for supporting Khan in the House after the initial row had erupted. Both Khan and Yadav were not present in the House.

If Khan had made these comments outside Parliament, the police would have come to the woman's rescue, Irani said as she urged political parties to rise above political differences and appealed to Speaker Om Birla to take action. A member cannot abuse the privilege Parliament gives him to make such comments and get away, she said.

Supporting Irani, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said either Khan should tender an apology or he should be suspended from the House. Several other women MPs expressed unhappiness over Khan's remarks and demanded that the Speaker take strict action against him.

Birla he will hold a meeting with leaders of all parties and then take a decision. NCP's Supriya Sule, Trinamool Congress member Kalyan Banerjee and BJD's B Mahtab were among the members who agreed with the views condemning Khan's remarks.

Stating his party is against any kind of misbehaviour against women, Leader of the Congress Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury referred to his party leader Sonia Gandhi being called "Italian puppet and daugher of Italy" in the past, remarks which drew strong protest from the members of treasury benches who said the issue should not be politicised.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman wondered why there was "dilemma" and "hesitation" in taking a stand on the issue, in an apparent dig at the opposition party which objected to her remarks.

Sitharaman said Khan's comments were utterly condemnable and said the House was looking to the Speaker to take exemplary action.

Chowdhury said the person at the centre of the issue should also be heard, referring to Khan. He suggested that the matter be sent to privilege or ethics committee. He later agreed with the prevailing view that the Speaker should take a call.

TMC's Kalyan Banerjee said a person who does not show respect to women does not know Indian culture, while NCP's Supriya Sule said she hangs her head in shame at Khan's offensive language and called for strict punishment. His behaviour was not tolerable and members should speak in one voice, she added.

JD(U)'s Lalan Singh said the Speaker should take the strongest action so that such behaviour is not repeated.

DMK's Kanimozhi wondered how women would be treated outside Parliament when they are "insulted" in such a way inside. Apna Dal's Anupriya Patel said the entire nation is ashamed.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said the House should leave the matter to the Speaker.

Union Minister Arjun Meghwal said Khan's comments were double-meaning and he has a history of making such remarks outside the House as well.

Actor and TMC member Mimi Chakraborty, a first-time MP, said whatever happened on Thursday was shameful and cannot be a part of her learning exercise.

AIMIM's Asaduddin Owaisi said he respected the sentiments of the House but took a dig at the government asking about the fate of a Group of Ministers constituted following a wave of allegations of sexual harassment against women in the "Me Too" movement, including against the then Union minister and BJP leader M J Akbar.

BSP supremo Mayawati also criticised Khan and said he should not only apologise in Parliament but to all women.

"The indecent language used by Azam Khan, an SP MP from Uttar Pradesh, against a woman presiding officer in Lok Sabha yesterday hurt the dignity and honour of women, and is very condemnable. For this he should not only apologise in Parliament but to all women," Mayawati said in a tweet.

(With PTI inputs)

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