The row over Samajwadi Party lawmaker Azam Khan’s sexist remark in the Lok Sabha escalated into a massive firestorm on Friday when lawmakers from most opposition and ruling parties demanded action against the Uttar Pradesh politician described by some, as a serial offender.
“I will keep looking at you that you will ask me to look somewhere else.”
“You look so good that I feel like gazing at you the whole time.”
These were the remarks by him during the session of the triple talaq bill in Lok sabha.
There were some suggestions that Azam Khan should be suspended if he didn’t come out with a clear-cut apology.
The call on how to proceed against the lawmaker will be taken by Speaker Om Birla who declared that he would call a meeting of leaders of political parties to discuss the episode before coming to any conclusion.
Azam Khan and his boss Akhilesh Yadav weren’t in the House when members flagged his remarks soon after question hour.
Union Minister Smriti Irani led the charge. “Let us not reduce this to a problem of just women. This is a blot on all legislators including men,” woman and child development minister Smriti Irani said.
“You cannot misbehave with a woman and get away with it by just dramatizing it. We cannot remain, silent spectators,” she said.
She called upon the House to “speak in one voice that this is unacceptable.”
And then they did so.
Trinamool Congress lawmaker Mimi Chakraborty didn’t recommend any specific action against Azam Khan but urged the Speaker to make sure it was, as she described it, “something big.”
“Nobody can stand in the Parliament and tell a woman, “look into my eyes and talk.” Speaker sir, all women here are expecting something big from you on this,” she said.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad demanded that Azam Khan apologize or face suspension.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Azam Khan’s remark was utterly condemnable and sought exemplary action against him. “I thank every member who supported a woman. (But) To politicize an issue related to women is outrageous; we have to stand together. Let us stand together and speak in one voice, which is what I thought was happening here. But why the hesitation, why the dilemma?” she said, widely perceived as a reference to the Congress’ stand.
Having made the point, the Congress leader later explained that his party was all for battle against Azam Khan. “You do what is right,” Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, insisting that his party wouldn’t allow the Lok Sabha’s prestige to be lowered. “Everyone should be respected,” he said.