NEW DELHI: West Bengal minister Akhil Giri on Saturday drew a barrage of criticism including from the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) for his controversial remarks on President Droupadi Murmu. Giri has apologised for his comment but the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) kept up the pressure with a complaint to the National Commission of Women and insisting that chief minister Mamata Banerjee drop him from her council of ministers.

“Giri’s comments on the President have insulted India at an international level,” BJP leader Arjun Munda said, underlining that according to the last census, there were 10.5 crore people from the tribal community.

“The insult of the President is not only shameful but also unfortunate. But interestingly, the TMC government is also led by a woman and their party is insulting a woman President who also happens to be a tribal leader.” Munda said on the widely-circulated video clip of Giri’s statement in Nandigram.

In the video, Giri is heard responding to barbs from the BJP. “He (Suvendu Adhikari) said that I am not good-looking. How beautiful is he? We don’t judge anyone by their appearance. We respect the office of the President (of India). But how does our President look?” Giri said. HT cannot verify the authenticity of the video clip.

TMC national spokesperson Saket Gokhale reiterated his party’s utmost respect for President Murmu. “Our party strongly condemns the unfortunate remarks made by MLA @AkhilGiriAITC and clarifies that we do not condone such statements. In the era of women’s empowerment, such misogyny is unacceptable,” Gokhale said in a post on Twitter.

Giri also apologised. “Just like I have respect for the country’s constitution, I also respect the President of India, who is the Head of the State. I also work as per the constitution of the country. But for the last few days, the kind of remarks made by BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari against me and my looks has left me humiliated and fuming. I am an old man, and by mistake, I have made a remark out of emotional outbursts of my anger. I regret making such a remark,” he said, according to news agency PTI.

By Shadab

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