Sonia Gandhi. Photo: AP
New Delhi: Several non-Congress Opposition leaders Thursday rallied behind Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, who was involved in a face-off with Union minister Smriti Irani in the Lok Sabha, with the TMC's Mahua Moitra saying the 75-year-old leader was "encircled and heckled pack-wolf style".
As the Lok Sabha adjourned soon after 12 noon, Gandhi walked across to the Treasury benches and sought to know from BJP member Rama Devi why she was dragged into the issue -- the BJP has demanded an apology from Gandhi over Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury referring to President Droupadi Murmu as 'rashtrapatni'.
Irani stepped in and was seen gesturing towards Gandhi and apparently protesting Chowdhury's remark. Gandhi at first tried to ignore Irani's protestations, but was soon seen gesturing towards the minister and speaking angrily.
Nationalist Congress Party leader Supriya Sule said unfortunate scenes were witnessed in the Lok Sabha.
"Was shocked to hear unnecessary sloganeering against Mrs Gandhi after house was adjourned. We all should take responsibility of the house and maintain its dignity and decorum," Sule said.
In a tweet, Moitra said, "Was in Lok Sabha when 75 year old lady senior leader encircled & heckled pack-wolf style when all she did was walk over & speak (masked) to another senior lady panel chairperson."
"Disgusted to read BJP lies and false version in press," the Trinamool Congress MP from Krishnanagar in West Bengal said.
Earlier, in another tweet, Moitra said, "All rules in Lok Sabha always only for Opposition. Today as soon as LS started before Hon'ble Speaker could even say 'Baithiye' mic was hijacked by BJP for 10 minute tirade. Different strokes for different folks."
Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi also referred to the incident involving Sonia Gandhi and said "this is shameful and bully behaviour of BJP MPs".
"Has to be condemned by one and all, this hooliganism that was led by a hysterical minister who herself is facing charges of illegal operations in Goa, besides fake education affidavits should be called out," she said.
Meanwhile, BSP leader Danish Ali attacked Irani for her remarks in Lok Sabha and claimed that she took the name of President Droupadi Murmu in a "objectionable" manner.
"I strongly demand an unconditional apology from Smriti Irani ji for disrespecting Hon'ble President of India while calling her name on the floor of the House, in an inappropriate and objectionable manner," he said.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman claimed that Gandhi told a BJP member not to talk to her. However, the Union minister did not name any BJP leader.
NCP member Sule and Trinamool member Aparupa Poddar were seen escorting the Congress president away from the Treasury benches as BJP members flocked around Rama Devi and Gandhi.
The Congress has accused BJP MPs of subjecting Gandhi to "brutal heckling, verbal assault and physical intimidation", and demanded an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.