Samajwadi Party lawmaker Azam Khan who sparked off a huge row over his sexist comment last week finally apologised in the Lok Sabha on Monday. The Samajwadi Party lawmaker told the House that he really meant it when he described BJP lawmaker from Bihar Rama Devi as his sister and had no intention to hurt anyone’s feeling.
“I have been an MLA for nine terms. I have also been a minister several times. I was in Rajya Sabha and became parliamentary affairs minister. I am aware of the legislative procedures. However, if the Chair thinks that I have hurt anyone with my comments, I apologise,” Khan, who has been hammered in and outside parliament for his controversial remarks during a debate on triple talaq bill last week, told Lok Sabha as soon as the House met on Monday morning.
Khan had gone to meet Speaker Om Birla along with his boss, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, to explain his side of the story. At this meeting, Birla is said to have formally conveyed his decision that there was no other way but to apologise.
A meeting of leaders of major political parties with Speaker Om Birla had last week decided that if Azam Khan did not apologise, the Speaker should take appropriate action against him.
Rama Devi, the Sheohar lawmaker from Bihar, who was the target of the Uttar Pradesh politician’s remark, however, made it clear that she hadn’t forgiven Khan. “I am a senior parliamentarian…. I did not come here (to parliament) to hear such remarks”, she said, running down Azam Khan as a politician who has acquired bad habits.
For the future, Om Birla told all lawmakers to address the Chair when they speak, not at each other. He also asked members to be careful in their choice of words and maintain decorum to ensure that no such incident takes place in the future.
Several woman MPs and ministers had on Friday roasted Azam Khan for his remarks in the Lok Sabha and sought action against the SP leader who many described as a “serial offender”. Union Minister Smriti Irani had called his remarks a “blot on all legislators” while Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman sought exemplary action against Azam Khan. Trinamool Congress Mimi Chakraborty had urged Speaker that “all women here are expecting something big from you on this”.
Akhilesh Yadav, who has backed Azam Khan, sought to raise the road accident in Uttar Pradesh that has critically injured the Unnao woman who had accused a BJP lawmaker of rape and asked if the concern for women was only limited to Azam Khan’s remark.