APOLOGY …Aadhir Chowdhury starts with an apology in Lok Sabha — after bad-mouthing PM Modi & drawing protests


NEW DELHI: Newly appointed Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Aadhir Ranjan Chowdhury, messed up with matters on the first day of his intervention in the house on Monday, resulting in an apology – just as Rahul Gandhi did a while ago to the Supreme Court and cut a sorry figure.  

The member from West Bengal drew protests from BJP members after he made a controversial comment against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It all started with a BJP member comparing Modi with Swami Vivekananda. In his participation on the debate on President Ram Nath Kovind’s Address of the Parliament,  Chowdhury took exception to the comparison of PM with the Swami. He said Ma Ganga and a Gandi Naali (dirty drain) cannot be compared. This incensed BJP members, who saw this as an insult to the PM.

Chowdhury tried to extricate himself from the situation by saying his Hindi was not good and hence the “misunderstanding” about what he said.  He said he only referred to a “Naali,” which meant “a channel.” This did not satisfy the BJP members. BJP working president JP Nadda intervened to say this was the Congress party’s way of insulting a leader elected into PM post by 125crore people.

The Speaker, Om Birla swiftly expunged the remark from the records of the house.
Chowdhury, a former Union minister of state for railways under the UPA-II, was a surprise choice as Congress floor leader in the Lok Sabha this time. He had also functioned as PCC chief in West Bengal for some time. He came into prominence after he led the campaign on the ground for Pranab Mukherjee when he contested parliament polls some time ago. Mukherjee, for most part, was a Rajya Sabha member.

Chowdhury’s campaign for Pranab in Jangipur in Murshidabad district in 2004 and 2009 was said to have helped in Mukherjee’s win. Thereafter, he rose in ranks in the party. He had started politics in the 1980s as a Left Front-RSP man, and later joined the Congress. In Congress, Mamata Banerjee had an open distaste to leaders like Chodhury. Yet, Chowdhury won the Berhampur LS seat in 1999. He is seen as a ‘fighter’ like Mamata, but he was no match to the CM. Between 2014 to 2018, he was PCC chief, but could not make any big mark for the party.

Congress leaders like Mani Shankar Aiyar had used harsh terms against PM Modi in the past. In the course of the present Lok Sabha polls, Aiyar called Modi a Neech Aaadmi – a term often used in a derogatory manner to refer to the society’s underlings. Aiyar takes pride in being a Brahmin and a ex-Doon School student, “senior” to Rajiv Gandhi. He also claims credit for being a self-appointed chamcha of the Nehru family. 

Aiyar’s loose talk before the 2014 general elections, saying Modi was welcome to open a tea stall at a Congress party plenum, had drawn flak, but Modi made best use of the chaiwala tag by presenting himself as a chaiwala – he having distributed tea as a boy when his father ran a shop at a railway station. After the results were out, then and now, Aiyar retired into silence mode. Aiyar hails from a South Indian Brahmin family that had its base in Lahore as well, before reaching back India after Partition. Aiyar, a retired IFS official, has a bureaucratic hangover as well. IHN-NN

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