New Delhi: A day after media reports about Nirmala Sitharaman’s spat with a Karnataka Minister surfaced, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has come out with a clarification. The Defence ministry has said that Karnataka’s District Incharge Minister of Kodagu Sa Ra Mahesh’s personal remarks against Union minister defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman were in bad taste, which do not merit a response.
“The district incharge minister who has made certain personal remarks against the RM. The remarks have also lowered the dignity of the upper house of the Parliament (Rajya Sabha) and show utter lack of regard and knowledge about the Indian polity,” the MoD said in a statement.
Sitharaman had visited flood-hit Kodagu on Friday after which she lashed out at the Karnataka minister.
According to MoD statement, Sitharaman’s tour programme was finalised by the district administration of Kodagu in consultation with the public representatives. “This programme was approved and circulated to all concerned two days prior to Raksha Mantri’s (RM’s) arrival. Subsequently, on the request of the district administration, an interaction with the veterans was added to the schedule,” it said.
“On completion of the field visits, as per the programme, RM was interacting with ex-servicemen who had been adversely affected by the floods, when the District incharge minister objected and insisted that meeting with the officials be conducted first. RM clarified that welfare of ex-servicemen was an essential part of the Ministry of Defence and the same was scheduled in the programme. However, the district minister insisted that the RM immediately stop the interaction and proceed to the meeting with the officials,” the statement said.
The MoD also said that a meeting with officials who were asked to sit with media to review the flood situation was ‘unprecedented’.
Karnataka minister’s remarks unfortunate
“While it was extremely unfortunate, in order to avoid the situation from deteriorating, RM immediately halted the meeting and proceeded to the venue of the meeting with the officials. The venue was already set up for the press conference and hurriedly the officials were summoned to sit among the mediapersons for the review. It was unprecedented to hold a meeting with the officials, with all the mediapersons present.”
The RM then heard the grievances of the waiting ex-servicemen, the MoD said and described Mahesh’s behaviour as ‘unfortunate’.
“In spite of district administration finalising the program and RM following the same in its entirety it is unfortunate that the minister behaved the way he did. Subsequently, the personal remarks made against the RM were also in bad taste, which do not merit a response.”
“It has also been noted that there has been gross misrepresentation with regard to the use of the term ‘parivar’ by the RM during the press conference. One of the four departments of the Ministry of Defence is the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare and in that context it was stated that all ex-servicemen are part of the MoD ‘parivar’. Any other inference is misconstrued and uncalled for,” the MoD said.
All that happened
Sitharaman’s spat with Mahesh got intensified after Katrnataka’s deputy chief minister G Parameshwara came to his colleague’s defence. Dy CM reminded her that state representatives are in no way “inferior” to those of the Centre.
Sitharaman had lost her cool on Friday, when Kodagu district in-charge minister Sa Ra Mahesh said that a number of government officials were waiting to meet her. “I am following a minute-to-minute programme… Central minister follows the minister in-charge here. Unbelievable!” she snapped.
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