The row over Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury's "Rashtrapatni" comment for President Droupadi Murmu quickly spiraled into a whodunnit after an angry exchange between Sonia Gandhi and Smriti Irani in parliament on Thursday.
The confrontation took place after MPs of the ruling BJP, led by Union Minister Smriti Irani, demanded an apology from Sonia Gandhi over her party MP's comment.
"Sonia Gandhi, apologise. You sanctioned the humiliation of Droupadi Murmu. Sonia ji sanctioned humiliation of a woman in the highest constitutional post," Smriti Irani said.
When the protests led to an adjournment, Sonia Gandhi, who was about to leave the house, abruptly turned to approach the BJP benches.
BJP MP Rama Devi, whom Sonia Gandhi sought out when she walked across the house towards the slogan-shouting BJP members, blamed the Congress president for the tense showdown.
"Sonia Gandhi's angry tone started it all," Rama Devi, a key "witness" to the fight, told reporters.
Sonia Gandhi had walked across the house to speak to Rama Devi. "Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had already apologised. What is my fault," the Congress president asked the BJP MP. Smriti Irani reportedly cut in and other BJP MPs started shouting slogans.
Various accounts suggest Sonia Gandhi told Smriti Irani, "Don't talk to me." The Congress says Smriti Irani pointed her fingers at Sonia Gandhi and said: "How dare you, don't behave like this, this is not your party office..." And that Sonia Gandhi replied: "I am not speaking to you."
Rama Devi said Sonia Gandhi spoke to Smriti Irani angrily, wagging her finger.
"Sonia ji came to me. Sonia ji told Smriti ji - I am not speaking to you. You don't speak to me. Smriti ji said 'Why? Why shouldn't we speak? You have come to speak to Rama ji?' Sonia ji said - I have come to speak to her," Rama Devi said to the media.
Rama Devi doubled down on her party's demand for Sonia Gandhi's apology.
"Who can tolerate the humiliation of the President this way? A backward leader, a tribal leader, someone whose work speaks, not party affiliation. She should apologise to country for choosing a leader like that, who speaks such nonsense," Rama Devi said.
On why she believed Sonia Gandhi had to apologise for a comment made by her party MP, the BJP leader replied: "Does she not understand? You have made someone leader - does she not know how he speaks?"