Remarks against President Droupadi Murmu | National Commission for Women summons Congress leader Udit Raj

In a notice issued on October 6, the Commission asked Udit Raj to appear before it on October 10 and explain his "extremely condemnable and shameful" comments.

Published - October 06, 2022 04:58 pm IST - New Delhi

Congress leader Udit Raj.

Congress leader Udit Raj. | Photo Credit: Photo: Twitter/@Dr_Uditraj

The National Commission for Women (NCW) has summoned Congress leader Udit Raj over his "sycophancy" remark against President Droupadi Murmu.

In a notice issued on October 6, the Commission asked him to appear before it on October 10 and explain his "extremely condemnable and shameful" comments.

At a function recently, Ms. Murmu noted Gujarat manufactures 76% of salt produced in the country. "It can be said that all countrymen eat Gujarat's salt," she had said. The western State produces nearly 80% of the salt consumed in India.

Referring to Ms. Murmu's remark, Udit Raj posted a strongly-worded tweet on October 5, targeting her. "No country should get a President like Droupadi Murmu. This is height of sycophancy. She says 70% of people eat Gujarat's salt. Spend your life eating salt, then you will know the truth."

In the notice, the NCW said the Commission has taken cognisance of his remark. "The comments made are extremely condemnable and shameful. The Commission has sent a notice to Shri Udit Raj. NCW has scheduled a hearing and asked Shri Raj to appear before the Commission in person on October 10, 2022 at 3 p.m.," the women's body said in a press statement.

Facing backlash from the BJP and other quarters over social media, the Congress leader put out a clarification on Twitter, saying his statement on President Murmu was his only and "nothing to do with the Congress".

Before the summons was issued, NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma tweeted, “Highly objectionable statement against the Supreme power of the country and a woman who with her sheer hard work reached at this position. @Dr_Uditraj must apologise for his derogatory and insulting statement. @NCWIndia is sending him a notice.”

BJP says it exposes ‘anti-tribal’ mindset of the Congress

Earlier, Congress leader Udit Raj’s unseemly swipe at President Droupadi Murmu that she was engaging in “sycophancy” with her comments that most Indians eat salt produced in Gujarat drew a sharp reaction, on October 6, from the BJP, which claimed the remark expose the Opposition party’s “anti-tribal” mindset.

His remarks drew sharp reaction on social media, with many users noting the President’s statement was true. Hitting out at Mr. Raj, the BJP noted that the Congress leaders in the past also had made objectionable remarks about India’s first tribal President.

“It is a matter of surprise and pain that Congress leaders are regularly using such undignified expressions. This exposes the party’s anti-tribal mindset. The Congress should apologise,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said.

He recalled the unsavoury row triggered by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury earlier when he had used the term “Rashtrapatni” for the President. Mr. Chowdhury had later termed it a “slip of tongue” and apologised to the President.

Another BJP spokesperson, Shehzad Poonawalla, accused the Congress of “insulting” India’s first tribal woman President.

Besides Mr. Chowdhury’s comments, he also recalled Congress leader Ajoy Kumar’s “evil mindset” expression while referring to the BJP’s choice of her as the Presidential candidate.

“If the Congress was against this language of calling the highest Constitutional post holder a ‘chamcha’ (sycophant), will it sack Udit Raj? Will Rahul and Sonia Gandhi condemn this statement?” Mr. Poonawalla asked. “It is unlikely they will, as such statements are applauded by the Gandhi family. The Congress had ensured the defeat of B. R. Ambedkar twice in polls.” “Droupadi Murmu ji rose through sheer hard work and commitment despite her challenging socio-economic circumstances and became the people’s President but the Congress cannot accept this,” he said in his statement.

As the row over Udit Raj’s comments intensified, the former MP issued a clarification, describing his dig on the President as his personal comments.

“My statement as regard to Draupadi Murmu ji is mine & has nothing to do with the Congress. Her candidature & campaign were in the name adivasi (tribal). It doesn’t mean she is no longer adivasi. My heart cries that when SC/ST reach to higher position, they ditch their communities & become mum,” he tweeted.

Mr. Raj comes from the Scheduled Caste community and was elected to Lok Sabha on a BJP ticket in 2014. He joined the Congress prior to the 2019 polls after the BJP denied him a ticket. 

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