Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam was denied an appointment with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi on Tuesday. Instead, Sitharaman met All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP V Maitreyan, party officials told Scroll.in.
Panneerselvam had told the media at the Tamil Nadu Bhavan on Tuesday that he was going to meet Sitharaman. “This is not a political visit,” he said according to The News Minute. “I have come to meet and pay my respects to Nirmala Sitharaman. She did a big favour for me by providing an air ambulance for my brother when he had taken ill, to enable him to get to Chennai from Madurai. I have come to convey my heartfelt gratitude to her.”
However, at 2.44 pm, the office of Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted that the minister had met only Maitreyan. The tweet said that it was Maitreyan who had sought appointment, not Panneerselvam.
But unidentified AIADMK officials claimed that Maitreyan had sought an appointment on the behalf of Panneerselvam. “He is a deputy chief minister and when he has come all the way from Chennai to Delhi, do you think we would not have taken an appointment for him?” an official said according to The News Minute. “Maitreyan took the appointment. If the defence minister had not planned to meet Panneerselvam, why were his car details taken by officials at South Block, where her office is?”
AIADMK officials said that Panneerselvam reached South Block at 2 pm and sat in the waiting room outside Sitharaman’s chamber. Maitreyan then received a call from the defence minister’s office and only he was allowed inside her chamber. After Maitreyan finished his meeting, Panneerselvam simply left with the Rajya Sabha MP.
The meeting between Sitharaman and Maitreyan was not cordial. “We don’t know what she is upset about,” an AIADMK leader said. “Maybe it is because he spoke about the air ambulance. But everyone knows that a military air ambulance was given for Panneerselvam’s brother. This is disappointing.”
However, Panneerselvam played down the incident. “Yedhaiyum Thaangum Idhayam Vaendum [We need a heart that can bear anything],” he told reporters, quoting former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister CN Annadurai.