Monday, 27 March, 2023
HomePoliticsDidi's aide, Suvendu's rival, organisational man — Akhil Giri caught in row...

Didi’s aide, Suvendu’s rival, organisational man — Akhil Giri caught in row for Murmu remark

Trinamool minister mocked President while lashing out at Leader of Opposition in Nandigram. Giri has sought apology after his statement drew widespread condemnation.

Text Size:

Kolkata: “I respect the Constitution of this country and the President of India who safeguards it. I expressed my pent-up anger for facing regular criticism. I express my apology.” With these words, West Bengal minister Akhil Giri sought apology for his misogynistic comment on President Droupadi Murmu.

The Minister-of-State (independent charge) Department of Correctional Administration was caught on camera insulting the President on 11 November while addressing a political programme in Nandigram.

“He [Suvendu Adhikari] said that I am not good-looking. How beautiful is he? We don’t judge anyone by their appearance. We respect the office of the President, but how does our president look?” Giri said amidst thundering applause from Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers in Nandigram.

Coming under fire from the opposition parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the TMC took to Twitter on Saturday to condemn the minister’s statement which went viral on social media.

“Our party strongly condemns the unfortunate remarks made by MLA Akhil Giri and clarifies that we do not endorse  such statements. In the era of women’s empowerment, such misogyny is unacceptable,” it tweeted.

A trusted lieutenant of TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, Giri began his journey in politics in the early seventies with Congress’ student wing Chhatra Parishad like the TMC supremo herself.

He sided with Mamata in her tussle with then Congress state chief and party heavyweight Soumen Mitra. Giri was one of the first Congress leaders from Purba Medinipur to join Mamata when she launched the TMC in 1998.

Though he lost in the 2006 Assembly elections from Ramnagar, Giri is a three-time MLA from the constituency in Purba Medinipur. The 63-year-old is the sitting MLA from Ramnagar.

Giri, who was married to BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari’s late aunt, is archrival of the Leader of Opposition. Mamata gave him the responsibility to strengthen the TMC in Suvendu’s bastion after the latter switched his allegiance to the BJP in 2020.

Known for his organisational skills, Giri had worked under the shadow of the Adhikari dynasty in Purba Medinipur. In his TMC days, Suvendu never shared a good rapport with Giri.

After his rival’s stature rose in the district following the acrimonious exit two years ago, Suvendu began calling Giri a “half pant minister” to mock his MoS post in the Mamata Cabinet.

After ensuring TMC’s victory in nine out of 16 assembly segments of East Medinipur in 2021, Giri was given a ministerial post and additional charge in the district where the BJP has grown. His son, Suprakash, is also a popular Trinamool youth leader in Purba Medinipur.

For the time being, the BJP has been quick to take on the minister who has been a thorn in the flesh of its top leader in his stronghold. One of its MPs, Saumitra Khan, has already written to the National Commission for Women (NCW) seeking appropriate action against the Bengal minister.

“We strongly condemn Mamata Banerjee’s party for such distasteful comments by her minister against India’s first tribal woman president. Akhil Giri has caused immense disrespect to all the tribals in this country,” West Bengal BJP chief and MP Sukanta Majumdar told ThePrint.

On its part, the Trinamool sought to contain the damage caused by Giri’s statement but added that the minister was targeted by the main opposition party. “Akhil Giri is Suvendu’s father’s age but that didn’t stop him from insulting Akhil Giri and saying he looks like a crow, Suvendu is the one who triggered Akhil. Akhil Giri fell in the trap,” TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh told ThePrint.

Political analyst Biswanath Chakravarty told ThePrint the sexist comment has dented Trinamool’s image across the country. “BJP took this opportunity to attack the TMC. Mamata Banerjee, in order to keep the party’s stand clear, should immediately sack the minister and send out a clear message that such remarks won’t be tolerated,” said the professor from  Rabindra Bharati University’s political science department.

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: ‘Ram, Baam & Shyam’ — why Mamata’s going hammer and tongs at BJP-CPI(M)-Congress ‘alliance’


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism

Most Popular