Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s foot-in-mouth remark on Saturday – addressing Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting (Independent charge) Ravi Shankar Prasad as “Pandit Ravi Shankar”, left the senior BJP leader embarrassed.
A report appearing in the The Indian Express quoted Sonowal as saying in the beginning of his speech at the launch of the ‘Digital North East Vision 2022’ document in Guwahati, “I would like to specially thank Pandit Ravi Shankarji.” Pandit Ravi Shankar was a sitar maestro, who passed away in the year 2012.
However, Prasad, who was sitting on the dais, was quick to interrupt Sonowal. “Ah, you made me Pandit!” he quipped, evoking a round of laughter from the audience that included Sonowal’s counterparts from Meghalaya and Tripura, along with a host of other ministers and senior bureaucrats.
The report further stated that rectifying himself, Sonowal continued with his speech, mentioning the proper name and designation of the Union Information Technology Minister. However, the Chief Minister tried to defend the blooper in the concluding part of his speech.
“I am sorry for calling you (Prasad) in that way. But whenever I pronounce your name, I have the tendency to call you as Pandit. God has been kind enough to bless you with such wisdom, maturity and courage. You do everything so sincerely. I always feel so (addressing you as Pandit),” he said.
In his speech, Sonowal highlighted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiatives in developing the North East, especially the communication network. Without taking the name of the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said, “Our representative remained as Prime Minister for 10 years, but he did not launch any exemplary scheme for the North East.” Singh was a Rajya Sabha MP from Assam.