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Rashtrapatni controversy on how the president should be addressed – Rashtrapatni controversy on how the president should be addressed


President Draupadi Murmu is a congressman. The BJP has accused the Congress party of insulting Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury after calling him ‘Rashtrapatini’. In the constitutional scheme of India, words like Rashtrapati and Sabapati (Speaker) are generic terms for both genders.

President Draupadi Murmu is a congressman. The BJP has accused the Congress party of insulting Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury after calling him ‘Rashtrapatini’. In the constitutional scheme of India, words like Rashtrapati and Sabapati (Speaker) are generic terms for both genders.

The congressman called President Draupadi Murmu a “Rashtrapathini”. There was an outcry in both Houses of Parliament on Thursday July 28 as the BJP strongly opposed Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary.

Although Adhir Ranjan Choudhary said he was wrong to use the word “Rashtrapatini” and that it was a slip, the BJP led by Ministers Smriti Irani in the Lok Sabha and Nirmala Sitharaman in the Rajya Sabha strongly protested and insisted that both Adhir Ranjan Choudhary and Congresswoman Sonia Gandhi should apologize.

Accusing the Congress of being anti-Adivasis and anti-women for using the disrespectful term, Smriti Rani accused the Congress party of insulting the army chief of staff.

India once had a female president. The first time something like this happened, there was a little debate about the right excuse to talk about the head of state. Because the word “Rashtrapati” is, according to some, considered masculine. The debate quickly ended after words like Rashtrapati and Sabapati (Speaker) were understood as generic terms for both genders in the Indian constitutional scheme.

The debate took place when Pratibha Patil was president

When the United Progressive Alliance decided to field Pratibha Patil, the former governor of Rajasthan, in the 2007 presidential election, there was debate and speculation surrounding the issue. It was the first time that India had a female president, and there was interest in seeing how the country would address her.

Among the suggestions then was the word “Rashtrabhatini”. However, this was not taken seriously. Activists and feminists have opposed calls like “Rashtramata”. They said the use of such words for a constitutional post was “patriarchal” and “sexist.”

Constitutional experts have argued that the word “Rashtrapati”, which was finalized after debates in the Constituent Assembly, should not be changed just because India had a female president – because the word has no gender connotation; ‘Janadipati’, President of the Republic is translated as ‘Rashtrapati’ in Hindi. There are other term-specific designations in the Constitution. But, they pointed out, this cannot be considered patriarchal or gender insensitive.

Rajya Sabha Vice President Najma Heptullah is still known as “Upsabhapati”. Constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap then pointed out that President Patil could be called ‘Rashtrapati Mahodaya’. There are two speakers from India, Meera Kumar and Sumitra Mahajan. Also, both were referred to as “Sabapati”.

Shiv Sena supremo Paul Thackeray, who broke the then BJP-led opposition alliance to support Pratibha Patil’s presidential candidacy, tried to settle the debate in a June 2007 statement in the official magazine of his “Samna” party. Declared a presidential candidate, there is some debate over what he should be addressing when he takes over the Rashtrapati Bhavan. I think there is no need for ‘pathi’ or ‘pathini’. Pratipatha should be called Rashtriyaksh,” he said.

However, this debate soon came to an end – President Patil was referred to as Rashtrapati throughout his tenure at Rashtrapati Bhavan, which ended in July 2012.

What happened in the Constituent Assembly?

The Constituent Assembly debated how to call the president. During a debate in the Constituent Assembly in December 1948, HV Kamath opposed it. Why (then) Article 41 – “The President of the Union shall be the President, the President of the Republic (Rashtrapati) – shall be the President of India”.

“Why the word Rashtrapati was removed from the article of the draft constitution today, Dr. P. R I want to know from Ambedkar. Because sir, have we now created – which then developed, has turned into hate – the new hate of an Indian or Hindi word, have we tried to avoid as much as possible in the English draft of the Constitution?” asked Kamat. He pointed out that the term Rashtrapati has acquired a generic character since it was used to describe the leader of the Congress organization during the freedom struggle.

Ambedkar explained that there was no bias – the change was only because the English Constitution drafting committee had left it to the Hindi and Hindustani drafters to choose the appropriate wording. The draft in Hindustani uses ‘Janadipati’ and in Hindi ‘Pradhan’. “I have now come to know that in the Urdu project the word ‘Sardar’ has been used,” Ambedkar told the Constituent Assembly.

During the discussion, it was also suggested to replace the word “Rashtrapati” with the word “Neta” or “Karnadar”. But Nehru suggested finalizing the term Rashtrapati.

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