In a major gaffe, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Saturday addressed Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad as 'Pandit Ravi Shankar'.
"I would like to especially thank Pandit Ravi Shankarji," Sonowal said at the beginning of his speech at the launch of the "Digital North East Vision 2022" document in Guwahati.
However, Prasad, who was sitting on the dais, quickly interrupted Sonowal, saying "Ah, you made me Pandit!". This evoked 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.
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.
Pandit Ravi Shankar was a sitar maestro, who passed away in 2012.
In his speech, Sonowal highlighted Prime Minister Narendra Modi's initiatives in developing the north-east, especially the connectivity.
Without naming 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.