Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday issued a clarification over the incident on Friday where she was caught on camera snapping at District Minister-in-Charge Sa Ra Mahesh at a press conference in Kodagu.
In a statement, the Defence Ministry clarified that Sitharaman’s itinerary was finalised by the district administration of Kodagu in consultation with the public representatives.
"This program 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," read the statement.
The statement by the Ministry further claimed that the district minister-in-charge insisted that the interaction with ex-servicemen be stopped and asked to meet with officials.
"On completion of the field visits, as per the program, Raksha Mantri (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," read the statement.
"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 media persons for the review. It was unprecedented to hold a meeting with the officials, with all the media persons present," the statement added.
The Defence Minister also clarified that by saying 'parivar' she meant the ex-servicemen. Several Twitter users had speculated that the Defence Minister had deviated from her schedule to meet survivors at a relief camp run by the RSS.
"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," clarified the Defence Minister.
The Defence Minister's confrontation with District Minister-In-Charge Sa Ra Mahesh had created a stir on social media. The duo could not reach a consensus on whether they should hold a press conference or hold a meeting with officials who were present in the room.
Her actions had drawn reactions from state leaders including Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara and former CM Siddaramaiah.