Kumaraswamy turns peacemaker to resolve Sitharaman-K’taka Min spat

Bengaluru: Days after reports emerged that Union defence minister, Nirmala Sitharaman lashed out at Karnataka Tourism Minister Sa Ra Mahesh, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Sunday tried to resolve the matter saying “time to forgive each other and join hands for the rehabilitation of the flood affected people in Kodagu”.

Saying that he was “deeply pained at the turn of events” with regard to the visit of Sitharaman to the flood-affected areas in Kodagu district, the Chief Minister said, “Though the government and the district administration have ensured and followed protocol despite the tough situation in the region during her visit, it was unfortunate that the Defence Minister had to go through certain inconveniences, which we regret. I also spoke to her over the phone on the matter.”

In a letter, tweeted from Chief Minister of Karnataka Twitter handle, Kumaraswamy said, “Tourism and Kodagu district in-charge Minister Sa Ra Mahesh is with the rescue and relief team, at the affected areas, coordinating their operations from the day one. He has tirelessly worked to oversee the rescue and relief operations on the ground.”

Sitharaman, who visited flood-hit Kodagu district on August 24, allegedly snapped at the Karnataka minister. “I am following a minute-to-minute programme, minister. If officials are important, my parivaar (family) is also important…. Central minister follows the minister in-charge here.

Unbelievable,” Sitharaman can be seen telling Mahesh in a video, which surfaced on social media.

However, later, the defence ministry issued a clarification on the matter, saying, “The tour programme of the RM (Raksha Mantri) was finalized 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 RM’s arrival. Subsequently, on the request of the district administration, an interaction with the veterans was added to the schedule.”

“On completion of the field visits, as per the programme, the RM was interacting with ex-servicemen who had been adversely affected by the floods, when the District in-charge minister objected and insisted that meeting with the officials be conducted first. RM clarified that the welfare of ex-servicemen was an essential part of the Ministry of Defence and the same was scheduled in the program. However, the district minister insisted that the RM immediately stop the interaction and proceed to the meeting with the officials,” the statement added.

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