Nirmala Sitharaman draws flak for row during Kodagu visit

A video grab of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s spat with Karnataka Tourism Minister S.R. Mahesh in Kodagu, during her visit to the flood-affected areas on August 24, 2018.

A video grab of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s spat with Karnataka Tourism Minister S.R. Mahesh in Kodagu, during her visit to the flood-affected areas on August 24, 2018.  

Verbal spat between the Defence Minister and Karnataka Minister S.R. Mahesh was caught on camera.

A 120-second verbal spar caught on camera between the Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the Kodagu district in charge Minister S.R. Mahesh over perceived changes in the itinerary of her scheduled visit to the flood-affected areas on Friday, had drawn flak from Congress leaders taking to Twitter to criticise her act.

While former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has tweeted that she was more interested in dominating “our State minister” (Mr. Mahesh), Deputy Chief Minister Parameshwar tweeted “our ministers have stayed back in Kodagu for weeks to oversee relief operations along with district administration. You should extend to them the same respect that they extend for the help from your end. It was disappointing to see you lash out at my colleague.”

Ms. Sitharaman toured the disaster affected parts of the district but during a scheduled meeting with officials at Madikeri there was a brief moment in which the minister seemed to be annoyed with Mr. Mahesh. Ms. Sitharaman was with a few ex-servicemen during which Mr. Mahesh tried to rush her through to interact with the officials first for “five minutes” and “then take your own time”.

Ms. Sitharaman agrees so and in the meeting hall turns to the Kodagu DC Ms. Srividya to confirm if the previous meeting was also scheduled and points out to Mr. Mahesh that she was following the itinerary. A visibly upset Ms. Sitharaman then rebukes the two to sort out the differences if they had any over the itinerary and not put her in an embarrassing situation.

Mr. Mahesh later told the media that she did not visit a few camps at Kushanlagar as mentioned in the itinerary. However, one of the elected representatives who was part of the convoy said that the visit to Kushalnagar was dropped at the last minute as the water levels had completely receded in the town while other areas in Kodagu were still reeling under the impact of the disaster.


Ms. Sitharaman was also ushered to a relief camp run by Seva Bharathi an affiliate of the RSS and it was not in the itinerary, alleged Mr. Mahesh. However, the local BJP said there were nearly 350 people in the camp and hence the visit cannot be faulted. “More over, during visits to disaster affected areas one cannot follow protocol strictly as in a University convocation and there could be some deviations. This is much ado about nothing,” according to the BJP leaders. Ms. Sitharaman’s reference to “my parivar” was described by them as alluding to the defence family as she was interacting with ex-servicemen before being interrupted and rushed through to another meeting.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 5:52:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/kodagu-incident-defence-minister-draws-flak/article24780732.ece

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