Azam Khan apologises, Rama Devi asks him to mend ways

As soon as Lok Sabha met after the weekend break, Speaker Om Birla allowed Khan to speak in the House.

Samajwadi Party's MP, Azam Khan, on Monday apologized in the Lok Sabha for his recent controversial remark against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentarian Rama Devi. 

“Though the entire House is aware of the content of my speech and my conduct, if the chair feels that I had done something wrong, I am apologizing for that,” Khan, who has been elected from Rampur in Uttar Pradesh, said as soon as the Lok Sabha assembled for the day. 

The BJP MPs, however, were not impressed with the way he apologized. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said that the Samajwadi Party MP should be more specific as his remark had been insulting for a woman. 

Akhilesh Yadav, the president of the Samajwadi Party (SP), said that while the BJP MPs were talking about dignity of women, the Lok Sabha should also discuss about the “Beti of Unnao” (daughter of Unnao in Uttar Pradesh). He was apparently trying to refer to the victim of the alleged rape by Kuldeep Singh Sanger, a BJP MLA in Uttar Pradesh, in 2017. The young woman and her lawyer was critically injured and two other members of her family were killed when a truck hit a car they were travelling were hit by a truck. 

Rama Devi pointed out that Khan was also known for making controversial remarks outside Parliament. She said that he should mend his ways. 

Speaker Om Birla then asked the SP MP to apologize again. 

“I had said it earlier also that she (Rama Devi) had been like my sister. Whether I say it once or a thousand times, it will remain the same,” Khan said, adding: “I apologise again”. 

Birla then said that all members of the Lok Sabha should be careful in future and avoid making any comment that could hurt the dignity of the House, particularly the Chair of the House.  

Khan and Yadav had earlier on the day met Birla in his office. 

Khan had made a controversial remark against Rama Devi last Thursday when she had been chairing the proceedings of the Lok Sabha in the absence of the Speaker. The Samajwadi Party MP had been participating in the debate on the Triple Talaq Bill. Rama Devi, who represents Sheohar Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar, had asked him to speak addressing the chair and looking at the podium of the Speaker. Khan had then made a remark, which several MPs, both from the ruling BJP and its allies as well as the opposition parties, had later denounced as insulting for a woman. 

The SP MP had sought to end the controversy saying that he had always respected Rama Devi like a sister. His explanation, however, had cut no ice. The BJP MPs on Friday continued to insist on an apology from Khan, while others also condemned his remark. The leaders of all parties had a meeting in the office of the Speaker and it was decided that Khan would apologize in the House on Monday. 

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