Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai | Updated: July 25, 2018 2:14:15 pm
Ahead of his visit to Sitharaman’s office, Panneerselvam told reporters in Delhi that he had come to personally thank Sitharaman for sending a defence-owned air ambulance during a medical emergency of his brother.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman did not meet Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam who waited at her office for some time on Tuesday hoping for an audience. Denying certain media reports that the two met, Sitharaman’s office tweeted, “Deputy CM of Tamil Nadu, Shri O. Panneerselvam has not met Smt @nsitharaman.” The tweet tagged Panneerselvam and V Maitreyan, an AIADMK Rajya Sabha MP, who had a scheduled appointment with Sitharaman and met her too.
Ahead of his visit to Sitharaman’s office, Panneerselvam told reporters in Delhi that he had come to personally thank Sitharaman for sending a defence-owned air ambulance during a medical emergency of his brother. “My meeting has nothing to do with politics. I have come to thank her for sending a defence air craft (an air ambulance) to air lift my brother from Madurai to Chennai when he was critical.”
A senior AIADMK leader in Delhi said the Defence Minister was perhaps irked with Panneerselvam for having made this information public. “Technically, we are told that she did not meet Panneerselvam due to a communication error; that the appointment was sought only for Maithreyan. I learnt that the revelation about the defence air ambulance unnecessarily triggered a controversy in several circles,” the AIADMK leader said.
On Monday, a large group of AIADMK MPs welcomed Panneerselvam as he landed in Delhi in a show of unity within the party’s different factions. This gesture surprised many since the majority of the 39 party MPs support Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami. Just a couple of MPs support Panneerselvam. Party leaders said the show of unity was to impress upon the BJP the AIADMK’s strength in the Lok Sabha.
Panneerselvam returned to Chennai Tuesday evening along with two close aides — K P Munusamy, party deputy coordinator, and P H Manoj Pandian, organising secretary and former legal wing secretary. Upon his return, when reporters asked Panneerselvam about Sitharaman denying him an appointment, he said, “Annadurai has said it once, we need a heart that could bear anything.”
Party spokespersons refused to comment on the development.