Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on Thursday demanded an apology from the entire Congress party after its leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary called President Droupadi Murmu "Rashtrapatni".
Rijiju said, "We strongly condemn the manner in which Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury addressed the President. We've been seeing Congress' comments since the day she was nominated for the post. One Congress spox said that "her selection represents the evil philosophy of India"."
"When she has assumed office of the President, no further remarks should be made. Adhir Ranjan has hurt dignity of the President with his remark. Not only he but the entire Congress party, and its president Sonia Gandhi, should apologise to the nation," he added.
Union Minister Piyush Goyal, meanwhile, Chowdhary deliberately called President Droupdai Murmu 'Rashtrapatni' and repeated it twice. He added the country will never tolerate this insult to tribal people.
"The way Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has insulted the President shows their mentality. This country will never tolerate this insult to our tribal people. After all that, he said that there is no need to apologise for this," said Goyal.
"He said that deliberately and repeated it twice. Is this a small incident? We demand Congress interim president to apologise in the parliament and also in front of the country," he added.
Meanwhile, Chowdhary said that he had mistakenly used the term "Rashtrapatni" for President Murmu and that the ruling party was deliberately trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.
"I inadvertently used the word 'rashtrapatni' just once and it was a slip of the tongue. I never meant any disrespect to the President," he told reporters outside Parliament.
"What should I do? I said it and realised I uttered a wrong word. I even looked for mediapersons to request them to not focus on it. However, I couldn't find them," Chowdhury said.
He later said, "I am a Bengali and not used to Hindi. I made a mistake, I agree."
The Congress leader said he has sought time from the President the day after tomorrow and will apologise to her if she has been offended by his inadvertent comments.
"I have sought time from the President and will apologise to her, but not to these 'pakhandis'," the Congress leader said, referring to the BJP.
(With PTI inputs)