WB Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar today sought a “public apology” from state education minister Partha Chatterjee for making “objectionable references” to his wife and sought chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s attention to the matter as “it is an insult to women”.

“A senior minister made objectionable references to the First Lady. I appeal to the chief minister to look into the matter. Being a woman herself, Miss Banerjee should know the sensitive aspect of the minister’s statement,” he said after flagging off a motorcycle rally organised by Coast Guard at Raj Bhawan lawns this morning.

On 15 January, Chatterjee had said that Sudesh Dhankhar accompanies her husband in meetings and asked media persons why questions were not asked on this. Reacting to this statement, Dhankhar said, “It is objectionable for the minister to say that the First Lady engages me in PR (public relation) exercise. The minister is terribly wrong and he needs to look within. It’s an unacceptable concept,” Dhankhar added.

According to Dhankhar the only official occasion attended by his wife was on the Constitution Day in state Assembly on 26 November and she had been welcomed by Speaker Biman Banerjee at the programme. Mrs Dhankhar, however, did not attend the programme at Old Currency Building on 11 January attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi though a seat was allotted for her as she was not invited, he said adding,

“The First Lady maintains highest scrupulous behaviour personally and in the public domain.” “Our culture does not allow such things. One cannot go on telling lies in this manner. The minister had even told media persons as to why they had never questioned about the First Lady accompanying me,” he added.

Without naming Chatterjee, Dhankhar urged him to introspect his statement and “try to understand what he had said”. “I will appeal personally to please think before speaking out. These are dangerous areas. I’m sure you (Chatterjee) will reflect and publicly apologise…” he said.