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Should I call you Nirmala or 'Nirbala' Sitharaman? Congress makes personal remark on FM

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New Delhi, Dec 02: Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Monday took a swipe at Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman by calling her "Nirbala", which immediately drew protest from BJP members in the House.

Nirmala Sitharaman

Participating in the discussion on the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, Chowdhury suggested that the finance minister has become weak and called her 'Nirbala Sitharaman'.

As the BJP members protested against his comment, Speaker Om Birla ruled that any unparliamentary remark would be removed from the records. During her reply, Sitharaman did not directly refer to Chowdhury's comment but concluded her speech by saying she still is Nirmala and "sabla" (empowered).

"Under this government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, women are sablas," she said. Chowdhury had also attacked the government during the debate, saying the ruling National Democratic Alliance can also be called the "Non-Delivery Agency" as it only makes promises. Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur demanded that Chowdhury apologise and withdraw his remark against Sitharaman.

"You are raising question marks on her capability... She is here due to her merit," he said, adding that such remarks are disrespectful to women. Chowdhury refused to withdraw his remark but said, "You can remove it from proceedings if you wish."

He sought to defend himself saying he had said the finance minister did not have the freedom to work freely, therefore, "I wonder whether you are Nirmala or Nirbala." Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal said instead of apologising, Chowdhury was defending his remark which was not right.

Seeking to calm the agitated members, Speaker Birla said unparliamentary comments from the opposition as well as the treasury benches would be removed from the records.

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