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‘Irked’ Nirmala Sitharaman refuses to meet O Panneerselvam, claiming he had 'no appointment'

Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam's confidante, Rajya Sabha MP V Maitreyan, met the Defence Minister as her office said in a tweet that the appointment was meant only for Maitreyan.

Published: 25th July 2018 05:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th July 2018 07:13 AM   |  A+A-

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman; Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam. (Photos | File)

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: In an unexpected development, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam was denied an audience by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at her office in New Delhi, on grounds that he had no appointment. However, Panneerselvam’s confidante, Rajya Sabha MP V Maitreyan, met the Minister.

The development has upset AIADMK functionaries, more so as it comes days after the party supported the BJP-led central government during the no-confidence motion. On returning from Delhi, Panneerselvam reacted, saying “Arignar Anna has taught us ‘edhayum thaangum idhayam vendum’ (we should possess a heart that withstands everything),” indicating Sitharaman’s act had hurt him but he was taking it in his stride.

Earlier in the day, when mediapersons asked about Panneerselvam’s sudden visit to New Delhi, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said, “It is not a sudden visit. He has gone to thank the Defence Minister for providing air ambulance to bring his brother from Madurai to Chennai for emergency medical treatment recently.”  Later, that afternoon, Panneerselvam, at New Delhi, said the same. “My visit is neither political nor official, but personal. It is to thank the Defence Minister,” he told mediapersons.

Panneerselvam, accompanied by Maitreyan, went to Sitharaman’s office in South Block. However, only Maitreyan was allowed to meet the Union Minister. This was revealed when her office tweeted that the appointment was only for Maitreyan and she did not meet Panneerselvam. 

However, high-level sources revealed that Maitreyan had, a week ago, fixed an appointment with Sitharaman on Panneerselvam’s behalf. He is said to have requested that the meeting, ostensibly to thank the Minister, be kept confidential. In this context, sources said Sitharaman was irked to find Panneerselvam revealing details of their ‘confidential’ meeting to media. When Panneerselvam and Maitreyan reached her office, only the latter was ushered in. In the short meeting, Sitharaman is learnt to have asked the MP why a meeting that was to be kept confidential — at his request — was revealed to media. Maitreyan could not be reached for comment.

Interestingly, Municipal Administration Minister SP Velumani, ahead of boarding a New Delhi flight on Tuesday, denied that Panneerselvam’s Delhi trip was a result of a rift between the Deputy CM and Palaniswami. Velumani was scheduled to meet a few Union ministers, including Sitharaman, in New Delhi on Wednesday. However, it is learnt that the Defence Minister has cancelled his appointment. 

Meanwhile, a key AIADMK functionary expressed dismay at Tuesday’s developments. “India is a federal polity. The Defence Minister could have met the top representative of a State at least for a few minutes as he had come to her office. Just imagine if this happens to Union ministers coming to Tamil Nadu,” the functionary told Express.Political observers read much more into the matter and are waiting to see how things unfold in coming days.

Defence craft given on payment basis 
It is learnt that it was RS MP V Maitreyan who called Sitharaman, a few weeks ago, and put Panneerselvam on the line with her. Panneerselvam asked her if a defence aircraft from Sulur air base could be arranged to transport his ailing brother after the private aircraft hired had developed technical issues. Sitharaman said she would see what could be done. The defence aircraft was finally arranged on a payment basis. 

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Comments(4)

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  • Karan

    her act is bitchy and silly. High handed. What is going to happen if she meets ops along with maotreyan?? Just letting in another person aalong with an appointmrnt holder doesn't do any harm. This is ththe problem with bjp top nowadays. They have all started to think high and mighty about themselves. They should come down immediately or they will hurt themselves very badly when they fall down
    1 year ago reply
  • Krishnan

    “My visit is neither political nor official, but personal. It is to thank the Defence Minister". Did the expenses incurred for this trip is paid by Mr.Pannerselvam or is the Government of Tamil Nadu is paying for this?
    1 year ago reply
    • usr

      read carefully "The defence aircraft was finally arranged on a payment basis. "
      1 year ago reply
  • tmranganathan

    dy.cm made a personal matter public to embarass Def.Min.tamil pride not suffered. in 1968 Anna came late for aopening exhibition in rajajai hall organised by ISI now Bof IS. i was waiting to receive CM.after half hour wait we inaugurated the show. he said sorry for his late arrival and silently left. OPS should have kept silent in delhi.
    1 year ago reply
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