West Bengal Minister Akhil Giri on Saturday drew widespread criticism, including from Trinamool Congress, for making controversial remarks on President Droupadi Murmu.
After the video clip of his comments went viral, Mr Giri apologised for making such a remark.
In a 17-second video clip, the authenticity of which PTI could not verify independently, Mr Giri was heard commenting on the "looks of the President".
"They (BJP) said that I am not good-looking. We don't judge anyone by their appearance. We respect the office of the President (of India). But how does our President look?" Mr Giri, the minister of state for Correctional Homes, was heard saying at a rally in a village in Nandigram late on Friday evening.
We have the utmost respect for Hon'ble President of India, Smt. Droupadi Murmu.- All India Trinamool Congress (@AITCofficial) November 12, 2022
Our party strongly condemns the unfortunate remarks made by MLA @AkhilGiriAITC and clarifies that we do not condone such statements.
In the era of women's empowerment, such misogyny is unacceptable.
Calling the comments "irresponsible", the party distanced itself from Mr Giri's remarks. "This is an irresponsible comment & does NOT represent the views of @AITCofficial. We are extremely proud of the President of India & hold her & her office in the highest regard," read the tweet by TMC spokesperson Saket Gokhale.
Statement:— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) November 12, 2022
This is an irresponsible comment & does NOT represent the views of @AITCofficial.
We are extremely proud of the President of India & hold her & her office in the highest regard. https://t.co/v571435Snv
"I didn't mean to disrespect the Honourable President. I was replying to what BJP leaders said while verbally attacking me. Every day I am verbally attacked for my looks. If someone thinks I have disrespected the President, then it is wrong. I apologise for making such a remark. I have immense respect for the President of our country," he told a news channel.
Later in a video statement, Mr Giri said he regretted making such a remark resulting from an outburst of anger following continuous attacks aimed at him.
I respect President. I mentioned the post&made a comparison to respond to Suvendu Adhikari,I didn't take any name. He had said Akhil Giri looks bad in his appearance. I'm a min,took oath to office. If something is said against me, it's an insult to Constitution: WB Min Akhil Giri pic.twitter.com/9w1oY2BuZA— ANI (@ANI) November 12, 2022
Earlier, the BJP lashed out at the Trinamool Congress and said Mr Giri's remark reflected the "anti-tribal" mindset of the TMC. "President Droupadi Murmu hails from the tribal community. Akhil Giri made objectionable comments against the country's President. These comments reflect the anti-tribal mindset of the TMC party. He should be immediately disqualified as MLA and should be arrested. I have written to the National Women Commission regarding it," Khan said.," BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar said.
The Bengal BJP took out rally in various parts of the state including Kolkata demanding Mr Giri's removal as minister and his arrest.
The TMC said it doesn't support such a comment but won't take responsibility for remarks made by leaders in an individual capacity.
"We don't want to comment on stray remarks by individuals. The party neither supports such remarks nor takes responsibility for such comments. We have immense respect for the President of the country," TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh told PTI.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)