Bengaluru, Aug 25, 2018 : A day after defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman sparred with a Karnataka minister for asking her to wind up a press conference in flood-ravaged Kodagu, deputy chief minister G Parameshwara reminded her on Saturday that state representatives are in no way “inferior” to those of the Centre.
Sitharaman had lost her cool on Friday, when Kodagu district in-charge minister Sa Ra Mahesh said that a number of government officials were waiting to meet her. “I am following a minute-to-minute programme... Central minister follows the minister in-charge here. Unbelievable!” she snapped.
Sitharaman’s statement was construed as an attempt to establish the superiority of central ministers over those at the state level. The next day, Parameshwara expressed his disapproval of the defence minister’s outburst with a tweet: “Madam, our ministers stayed back in Kodagu for weeks to oversee relief operations along with the district administration. You should extend to them the same respect that they extend for the help from your end. It was disappointing to see you lash out at my colleague.”
Parameshwara then went on to suggest that Sitharaman was in no way superior to Mahesh just because she was a central representative. “State governments derive their powers from our Constitution, not from the Centre. 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,” he said in another tweet.
Hours after the spat, Mahesh told mediapersons that he had only asked Sitharaman to attend to the officials first -- so they could go about with rehabilitation work. “I pointed out that the meeting with the waiting officials would take hardly five minutes, and she could continue with her other engagements after that,” he said.
According to the Karnataka government, the southwestern district of Kodagu has incurred losses to the tune of Rs 3,000 crore due to heavy rainfall over the last few weeks. Chief minister Kumaraswamy has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide Rs 2,000 crore in financial assistance for rehabilitation and restoration work.