The Lok Sabha on Thursday, 28 July, saw a tense showdown transpire between Union Minister Smriti Irani and Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader demanding that the latter apologise for Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury's contentious "Rashtrapatni" remark.
After Irani's high-decibel diatribe against Gandhi, targeting her over the purported derogation of the president, the party chief allegedly retaliated with a curt "Don't talk to me."
The BJP has claimed that Gandhi walked up to MP Rama Devi in the Lower House, asking what her fault was. Irani intervened in the situation, which is when the Congress president allegedly spoke with hostility.
The Congress, however, has contended this saying that all Gandhi did was approach Rama Devi in a "dignified manner," and that she was then heckled and gheraoed by the BJP.
Amid multiple versions that have surfaced since the showdown, here's what leaders across the political spectrum have said about the face-off:
'Gandhi's Tone Started it All': BJP's Rama Devi
BJP MP Rama Devi, whom Sonia Gandhi reportedly approached when she walked across the house after the ruckus to ask what her fault was, blamed her for what happened.
She said Sonia Gandhi spoke to Smriti Irani angrily, wagging her finger.
"Sonia Gandhi's angry tone started it all," she said.
"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.
Smriti Irani Shouted 'You Don't Know Who I Am': Congress' Jairam Ramesh
Congress MP Jairam Ramesh General Secretary in-charge Communications has alleged that while Gandhi politely informed Irani that she was not speaking to her, the Union minister had responded with a vitriolic remark.
"Sonia Gandhi was talking to a BJP MP, Rama Devi. Smriti Irani came to Sonia Gandhi and spoke abusive words in a very derogatory tone. When Sonia-ji politely told her, 'I am not talking to you, I am talking to another MP,' Smriti Irani shouted, 'You don't know me, who I am'. MPs of many other parties and Congress MPs are witnesses to this incident."Congress MP Jairam Ramesh
"What kind of behaviour is this? Can an MP not even talk to a fellow MP? Smriti Irani can make her point in a political way. Why is she taking such a heckling attitude with a senior MP and a party president?" Ramesh added.
"Union Minister Smriti Irani behaved indecently and abusively in Lok Sabha today! But will the speaker condemn it? Are rules only for the Opposition?" he said on Twitter.
'Sonia Gandhi Displaying Greater Aggression': FM Sitharaman
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman accused the Congress chief of "greater and greater aggression" and added that BJP Lok Sabha MPs felt threatened when Sonia Gandhi approached Rama Devi.
"Some of our MPs in the Lok Sabha felt very threatened. I didn't imagine a situation where I would have to say this. Smt Sonia Gandhi came up to one of our very senior members, Rama Devi ji. One of our members approached her and she (Sonia Gandhi) said you don't talk to me, putting the member down in the House," Sitharaman was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
"So instead of remorse, from the highest leader of the Congress party, we find greater and greater aggression," she added.
'Nobody Really Knows What Happened': NCP's Supriya Sule
Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule, who led Sonia Gandhi post the hostile exchange, said she wasn't there when the whole thing happened.
"Smriti Irani said Sonia Gandhi threatened her? To be honest, I went much later, I was not there when this whole thing happened," Sule told reporters.
"When I went, Sonia ji was not talking to anyone. A lot of MPs were there. Lot of commotion. Emotions were running high," she said.
She added because "there was too much commotion" nobody knows what transpired.
"Sonia ji mentioned to me that she went to speak to Rama Devi and she had a chat and then there was too much commotion. So nobody really knows what happened," she added.
'BJP Thought Sonia Gandhi Would Get Scared & Leave': Congress's Gaurav Gogoi
Interacting with the media on the Parliament premises, Congress' deputy leader in Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi alleged that objectionable slogans were raised against Sonia Gandhi.
When the atmosphere became heated, Gaurav Gogoi and Vishnu Prakash shielded Gandhi, The Indian Express reported.
"The BJP thought Sonia Gandhi would get scared and leave, but being the fearless leader she is, she went up to those women MPs and wanted to speak to them in a very dignified way," Gogoi said.
"Women and male MPs and ministers surrounded her and created an atmosphere where she could have been shoved and could have been hurt," he added.
In a tweet, he said, "The brutal heckling, verbal assault and physical intimidation by the BJP was traumatic and sickening."
'Sonia Gandhi Could've Been Hurt': Cong Leader Who Led Her Away
Another Congress leader, Geeta Kora, who was among those who led Sonia Gandhi away, said the behaviour Gandhi was subjected to was "not acceptable."
She added, the incident that happened in the Parliament is a "black spot in its history."
She alleged that MPs surrounded her, made objectionable comments, and Irani spoke to her while pointing a finger at her repeatedly.
"She could have been hurt in the incident. I strongly condemn such behaviour and Smriti Irani and the Prime Minister should apologise in Parliament," Kora said.
'Gandhi Heckled Pack-Wolf Style': TMC's Mahua Moitra
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Mahua Moitra, said that when she was in the Lok Sabha, Sonia Gandhi, was "encircled and heckled pack-wolf style."
"A 75-year-old lady, senior leader, encircled and heckled pack-wolf style, when all she did was walk over and speak (masked) to another senior lady panel chairperson," she tweeted.
She also said that she was "disgusted to read BJP lies and false version" in the press.