Rashmi Rekha Das

Cutting across party lines, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Congress leaders in Odisha on Saturday came down heavily on Trinamool Congress minister Akhil Giri for making objectionable remarks against President Droupadi Murmu.  

The TMC minister reportedly mocked the looks of the President during a public rally at Nandigram in West Bengal.

Condemning such an act of the West Bengal Minister, senior BJD leader Muna Khan said, “No one has rights to use such words for President of India Droupadi Murmu, especially when she belongs to a tribal community. She is the daughter of Odisha. She has reached the zenith of success and became the President of India."

"We strongly condemn Giri’s act which is not acceptable. Stringent action should be taken against such a person. He is not eligible to be a minister. He should be suspended from the party without further delay,” demanded Khan.

Lashing out at the Trinamool Congress, veteran Congress leader Sura Routray said, “Every citizen of India and Odisha are deeply hurt by the statement of West Bengal minister Akhil Giri against our President Draupadi Murmu.  She is an honest and highly educated woman. Once she was a legislator, she then became Jharkhand Governor and now she is our President."

He further said, "Using derogatory remarks against our President is really objectionable. The minister has used derogatory remarks against the President just because she is of black complexion. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is also not of fair complexion. Then she should not be the Chief Minister of West Bengal. Akhil Giri should resign from the ministerial berth. He should be arrested soon.”

BJP leader Kusum Tete said, “Despite being a people’s representative and minister, Akhil  Giri has used foul words for our President. Though West Bengal has a woman Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Giri came up with such statement which is ridiculous. Being a tribal woman and MLA, I strongly condemn this. I would like to request the West Bengal Chief Minister to suspend a minister like Giri who is ‘mad’. I will file a complaint with the Town Police demanding Giri’s arrest as soon as possible.”

Minister of Tribal Affairs of India Arjun Munda said, “It is unfortunate that such words were used against the President of India Droupadi Murmu. For the TMC leader, the position of the President of India has no importance. A woman like Droupadi Murmu from tribal community got elected as President of India. It’s a matter of pride for us. By making such a statement, the TMC leader has marred the reputation of our country.  He should be suspended immediately. If he is not suspended, it can be concluded that the West Bengal government is anti-people and anti-tribal. And, it hardly cares for the country's reputation.”

National spokesperson of BJP Sambit Patra said, “The statement of TMC leader Akhil Giri has hurt the sentiment of Odisha people. Odia political leaders cutting across the party lines are really saddened by Giri’s act. Now, it is the demand of 5 crore Odia people to Mamata Banerjee to suspend Giri immediately. A police complaint should be filed against him and he should be arrested for his heinous statement. It’s not just an insult of President’s position, it’s an insult of women and it’s an insult to tribal community.”  

The West Bengal minister has come under sharp criticism after a video of him making the objectionable remarks against the President went viral on social media.

The TMC leader said, “He (Suvendu Adhikari) says I (Akhil Giri) am not good-looking. How beautiful he is! We don't judge people by their looks. We respect the chair of your President. How does your Rashtrapati look?”

Later, Giri on Saturday said, “...Whatever I said at the event in Nandigram, was out of anger. But I have deepest respect for the president of India and I apologise for my comments.”