Apologise or face action: LS roasts Azam Khan

Azam Khan

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Friday decided to ask Samajwadi Party member Azam Khan to apologise to BJP member Rama Devi or face action for certain sexist remarks against her.

Cutting across party lines, Lok Sabha members authorised the Speaker to take “exemplary action” against Khan who had made the remarks when Rama Devi was presiding over the House proceedings on Thursday.

“The Speaker will ask Azam Khan to apologise for his comments made against Rama Devi without any condition in the House. If he does not do so, the Speaker has been authorised to take action against him,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi told reporters after a meeting of floor leaders of the Lok Sabha convened by the Speaker.

Earlier, the members voiced their anger and anguish over Khan's remarks with women demanding an apology and suspension of the SP leader.

"He (Khan) has spoken of resigning. We are not bothered about that. We want an apology. He should come to the House and apologise,” Sanghamitra Maurya, a BJP member from Badayun in Uttar Pradesh, said during the Zero Hour.

Union Minister Smriti Irani said Khan's remarks — targeting Rama Devi during the discussion on triple talaq bill on Friday — were a "blot on all members, including men".

"I appeal to all to speak in one voice — you cannot misbehave with a woman and get away with it by just dramatising it. We cannot remain mute spectators," Smriti said. Several members were on their feet demanding action against Khan.

The Congress appeared to dither in taking a clear stand when its leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said his party was opposed to any disrespectful conduct against women but also recalled that UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was called 'Italy ki Kathputli' in the Lok Sabha.

Chowdhury later backed the call for action against Khan. "You do what is right. The prestige of the Lok Sabha cannot be lowered," the Congress leader said.

Law Minister Ravishankar Prasad, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said the Speaker was empowered to take a decision on the issue.

After hearing out views from a cross-section of the House, Speaker Birla said he would consult leaders of political parties before arriving at a decision.

Neither Khan, nor SP chief Akhilesh Yadav were present in the House.

"Nobody can stand in Parliament and tell a woman 'look into my eyes and talk'. Speaker sir, all women here are expecting something big from you on this," Trinamool member Mimi Chakraborty said.

AIMIM member Asaduddin Owaisi supported action against Khan but also sought to know about the report a ministerial panel was to submit over 'Me-Too' allegations against BJP member M J Akbar.

NCP member Supriya Sule, Apna Dal member Anupriya Patel, Union ministers Babul Supriyo and Anurag Thakur also demanded action against Azam Khan.

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