Mamata Banerjee | Photo: ANI
Kolkata: Condemning ministerial colleague Akhil Giri's controversial remarks on President Droupadi Murmu, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday apologised for his comment on behalf of the TMC.
Banerjee said she has immense respect for the President, and her party has cautioned Giri against making such derogatory remarks in the future.
"We respect the President of India. She is a highly respected lady. We condemn the statement made by minister of state Akhil Giri; what he said is wrong. The party has already condemned the statement and has also cautioned Akhil Giri," the CM said at a press conference at the state secretariat.
Banerjee said the party "does not support" Giri's opinion and will take stringent action against him if he repeats such mistakes.
"I personally respect President Droupadi Murmu. She is a very nice lady, and I like her a lot. I apologize for Akhil Giri's statement; I apologize on behalf of my party. We have great regard for the President, and making such comments is not part of All India Trinamool Congress culture," she said.
Giri faced flak recently for his remarks on the looks of President Droupadi Murmu. After a video clip of his comments went viral, he apologized for it.
"Politics is an art; speaking is also an art. Whenever I say something wrong, I take back my words. No one in Trinamool supports Akhil Giri, but the kind of venom opposition leaders in Bengal spew day-in and day-out is reprehensible. Is it right to call someone 'darkak' (crow species) for his skin colour?" she asked while pointing out that Giri was targeted for his complexion in the past.
The TMC boss said she believes people should not focus on the beauty of one's skin, not on his or her soul.
"Beauty is not skin-deep; your soul inside should be fair," she said.
Referring to Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari's purported comment against state minister Birbaha Hansda, Banerjee said she feels ashamed of how a tribal woman was insulted by the leader.
"Birbaha Hansda is a tribal woman from a cultured family. I feel ashamed when someone says that Hansda should stay beneath his shoe. Is this how someone should speak about a woman, let alone a minister of our state and a tribal woman? This should be condemned at all costs," she said, without naming Adhikari.
The TMC on Monday released a video where leader of opposition Suvendu Adhikari was heard making remarks against the state minister from the ST community Birbaha Hansda.
PTI could not independently verify the authenticity of the video.
In the 11-second video clip shared by the TMC on its Twitter handle, Adhikari was purportedly heard telling a group of people, "Those who are sitting there are kids. This Debnath Hansda and Birbaha Hansda are all kids; their place is beneath my shoe."
However, Adhikari, when approached by a TV channel, denied making any such comment.
Criticising the Centre for not releasing the dues it owes to the state, Banerjee, during the press meet, wondered whether the country is still a democracy or has turned into a "one-party rule".
"The Centre is not clearing the dues it owes to the state; I have personally met the Prime Minister regarding this. I have even sent my ministers and MP to Delhi to sort out the issue. They keep saying that the matter has been forwarded to the Prime Minister's Office, but nothing is coming of it," she said.
Banerjee reminded the Union government that "paying the states for 100 Days' work scheme" is a constitutional norm.
"The Centre must pay... it is a compulsion as both Houses of Parliament have passed a law in this regard," she added.
Meanwhile, reacting to Banerjee's apology, BJP national vice president Dilip Ghosh claimed that TMC leaders get encouraged by the kind of comments their party supremo made in the past against the prime minister and the governor.
"In the past, Mamata Banerjee has made objectionable remarks against the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar. So such comments from TMC leaders are no surprise. Banerjee apologised in view of the nationwide outrage over Giri's remarks," he said.