Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is not new to controversy as her alleged rude behaviour has often made her the target of angry responses in the past.
In July last month, she had kept Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam waiting outside her office in Delhi for over 40 minutes. This was after she had publicly contradicted Panneerselvam’s claims that he was meeting the defence minister in the national capital. Denying certain media reports, Sitharaman’s office had tweeted, “Deputy CM of Tamil Nadu, Shri O. Panneerselvam has not met Smt @nsitharaman.”
Panneerselvam was in Delhi with party colleague V Maitreyan to meet Nirmala Sitharaman to personally thank her for sending a defence-owned air ambulance during a medical emergency of his brother. No sooner had he told reporters about his intention to meet her, Sitharaman’s office had posted the tweet denying his claims.
The defence minister, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka, has now courted a new controversy after a video of her losing cool at Karnataka minister Sa Ra Mahesh during her visit to the flood affected Kodagu district went viral. In the viral video, Sitharaman is seen launching a tirade in full public view at Ramesh because of the latter’s decision to first address the relief and rescue team before speaking to a group of people allegedly belonging to the RSS-affiliated Seva Bharti.
According to JDS sources, Ramesh was keen for Sitharaman to meet the relief and rescue team so that they could carry on with their task. But Sitharaman allegedly decided to first meet the members of Seva Bharti. When told that the relief and rescue team officials were waiting for her, an angry defence minister lost her cool stating that she was simply following the ‘minute-to-minute’ schedule given to her by the district commissioner.
Losing her cool, she rebuked Ramesh, a JDS minister in-charge of ministry of tourism, “Minute-to-minute programme I am following minister. I don’t violate that. If officials are important, my parivaar (family) is also important. I follow the minister in-charge. Central minister follows the minister in-charge here. Unbelievable.”
Nirmala Sitharaman’s mention of parivaar is being seen a reference to Sangh Parivaar, which is how the RSS is addressed as.
She did not stop here. She went on with her tirade and said, “You have a list of minute-to-minute for me to follow. If you did have a difference of opinion you should have sorted it out before. Not to put me in an embarrassing position. I am doing as per your schedule.”
When media persons present in the room pointed out the presence of mic during her tirade, Sitharaman said, “Let it get recorded.”
The ruling JDS reacted angrily at the Sitharaman’s rude behaviour towards one of their senior ministers. Accusing the defence minister of ‘arrogance,’ Danish Ali, the JDS spokesperson and a close aide of Karnataka Chief Minister Kumaraswamy, told Janta Ka Reporter, “It shows that the arrogance of the minister. It also shows that they (BJP leaders) are more interested in having a dialogue with their folks from their ideological masters, the RSS, than those involved with the relief and rescue team.”