Karnataka minister’s behaviour unfortunate: Defence ministry

State govt hits back at Sitharaman

New Delhi/Bangalore: A day after the public spat between Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Karnataka Minister Sa Ra Mahesh over her itinerary, the defence ministry on Saturday termed his conduct as “unfortunate”, but the state government hit back saying it was not inferior to the Centre and she should have shown respect to its minister.

The defence ministry issued a clarification, questioning the Karnataka minister’s conduct, and accusing him of making “personal remarks”. “On completion of the field visits, as per the programme, the defence minister was interacting with ex-servicemen who had been adversely affected by the floods, when the district in-charge minister objected and insisted the meeting with the officials be conducted first,” it said.

“The defence minister clarified welfare of ex-servicemen was an essential part of the ministry, and was scheduled. However, the district minister insisted the defence minister immediately stop the interaction and proceed to the meeting with the officials,” the ministry said, adding Sitharaman halted the meeting and proceeded. “The venue was already set up for the press meet and hurriedly the officials were summoned to sit among the journalists. It was unprecedented to hold a meet with the officials, with all the mediapersons present,” it said.

But the Defence minister’s remarks drew a sharp response from Karnataka Deputy CM G Parameshwara who said the state governments derive their powers from the Constitution, not from the Centre, and he was disappointed to see her lashing out at his colleague. “The Constitution has distributed powers among the Centre and states to ensure an equitable partnership between both. We are not inferior to the Centre. We are partners @nsitharamanMadam, he said in his tweet, before the clarification.

“Madam @nsitharaman, 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 they extend for the help from your end. It was disappointing to see you lash out at my colleague,” he said.

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