House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (Ill.) yesterday sharply criticized Speaker Jim Wright (Tex.) for aiding Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in presenting a cease-fire plan last Friday.

Michel, joining a rising chorus of criticism of Wright's performance, said it was "absolutely wrong" for the Texas Democrat to "get directly involved in what is the prerogative of the president and the secretary of state."

Ortega, with Wright's assistance, offered the 11-point cease-fire proposal to Nicaraguan Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo and urged the cardinal to use it as a basis for indirect peace talks with the U.S.-backed Nicaraguan contras. Obando is serving as the intermediary between the Marxist Nicaraguan government and the U.S.-backed contras.

Over the weekend, Wright came under strong attack by Reagan administration officials, with one senior official arguing that by joining the peace process Wright had dealt a "serious setback" to hopes for a regional peace.

Michel, appearing on NBC News' "Meet the Press" yesterday, said he was "very distressed" by the speaker's actions. Wright's involvement, said Michel, "flies right in the face of what our administration has been attempting to do by having, number one, the negotiations take place in the region, in Central America, as distinguished from bringing it right up here in Washington . . . . To have Ortega be able to use our {public relations} mechanism in this country, you know, to push his point of view, I think, really tilts the scales the way they ought not to be tilted."

Wright has defended his role in the peace process by saying that he became involved this summer at the invitation of the White House.

Appearing on the same program with Michel, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) offered Wright some mild support.

"I'm not privy to Jim Wright's international agenda, but I think Jim Wright's a sincere speaker of the House in search of peace . . . . I don't question his sincerity," said Rostenkowski.

Asked whether Wright's role was proper, however, Rostenkowski -- who is not considered a Wright loyalist -- said, "I don't know whether it's improper," and acknowledged he had "never seen it done before."