New Delhi: The Lok Sabha members on Friday unanimously condemned Samajwadi Party MP Azam Khan’s objectionable comment against BJP MP Rama Devi and demanded “exemplary” action against him. The Speaker has assured to take a decision in the matter soon.
Participating in a discussion on the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 on Thursday, Khan had made a remark directed at Rama Devi, who was presiding over the House. The remark drew objections from the treasury benches. Rama Devi, the MP from Bihar’s Sheohar, herself objected to the sexist remark and ordered it be expunged from Parliament records. Raising the matter during Zero Hour on Friday, BJP MP Sanghmitra Maurya said: “What happened in the House on Thursday was undignified. Azam Khan has to come to the House and apologise.” Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said she had never heard such comments in her seven year’s legislative career. “The issue is not about women. The entire House was insulted. Let us not reduce it to a women problem. This is a blot on all legislators, including men,” she said. Irani said Parliament had already passed the law against sexual harassment at work place and insisted: “We cannot be mute spectators.” She urged the parties to leave aside their political differences and send a unanimous message that “misbehaviour with a woman” would not be tolerated. “If such misbehaviour had happened with a woman outside this House, she would have been helped by the police. By taking strict action against the MP (Azam Khan), this House should send a message outside that the privilege of Parliament cannot be misused.” Union Minister Babul Supriyo said that though Khan’s remarks were expunged, TV channels had showed them and the entire country has watched. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also demanded that Khan, an MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur constituency, should apologise for his remarks or be suspended from the House. BJD member Bhartruhari Mahtab called Khan’s remarks “unpardonable” and sought exemplary action against him, while Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the issue should be referred to the ethics or privileges committee of the House. The Trinamool Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Janata Dal-United (JD-U) MPs too supported the call for strict action against Khan.