Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman refused to meet Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Tuesday who kept waiting in her office for around 20 minutes and finally left without meeting her.
Mr Panneerselvam accompanied AIADMK lawmaker Dr V Maitreyan who had taken an appointment to meet Ms Sitharaman.
But the deputy chief minister, who is seen to have been close to the ruling BJP government at the centre, wasn’t allowed beyond the minister’s office.
The defence minister’s office was also seen to rub in the snub.
When news outlets in Tamil Nadu reported that Mr Panneerselvam had met Ms Sitharaman, her office promptly tweeted a sharp rebuttal that made it clear Dr Maitreyan was alone.
To reiterate, the attached was the @ThanthiTV tweet we were referring to.
– NSitharamanOffice (@nsitharamanoffc) July 24, 2018
O Panneerselvam, or OPS as he is often called, had reached Delhi last night and had declared that he was meeting the Defence Minister to thank her for providing an air ambulance to rush his ailing brother from Madurai to Chennai for treatment.
Sources told NDTV that the Defence Minister was not happy at how the Deputy Chief Minister had gone public with the favour and declined to meet OPS.
AIADMK sources told NDTV that OPS, along with Dr. Maitreyan and two other leaders went to South Block on Raisina Hill around 2 pm to meet the minister.
While Dr Maitreyan was called to the minister’s chamber, OPS was left sitting in the visitor’s room.
OPS waited for around 20 minutes and left when Dr Maitreyan came out of the minister’s room and it became clear that he wasn’t going to be able to meet her.
An AIADMK leader later told NDTV that Ms Sitharaman had initially agreed to meet OPS but later changed her mind, her claim denied by government sources.
OPS, who had come with a shawl and bouquet for the minister, left it behind the visitor’s room and headed straight to the airport. He didn’t talk to the waiting reporters in Delhi.
“One should have the heart to accept anything,” a dejected OPS told reporters in Chennai later in the night, according to news agency IANS.
The snub has taken AIADMK leaders by surprise.
Just days earlier, the AIADMK had reversed its decision to abstain from voting in the no-confidence motion against the government at BJP president Amit Shah’s request.
AIADMK’s 37 lawmakers eventually voted against the no trust motion, ignoring voices within the party that had opposed supporting the NDA government and exposing the party to attacks from the opposition AIADMK in the state.