Terming the major controversy that erupted over Defence Minister Niramala Sitharaman's visit to Karnataka's flood-hit Kodagu district on Friday as unfortunate, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Sunday regretted the inconveniences caused to her.
"Though the state government and the district administration have ensured and followed protocol despite the tough situation in the region during her (Nirmala) visit, it was unfortunate that the Defence Minister had to go through certain inconveniences which we regret," said Kumaraswamy in a post on the social media platforms Facebook and Twitter.
Admitting that he was pained at the turn of events, the Chief Minister said he spoke to her on the reported tiff over protocol with state Tourism and district in-charge Minister Sa Ra Mahesh.
"I believe this is the time to forget the differences and forgive each other and join hands in the rehabilitation of the flood-affected people. The grave situation in the district warrants it. I look forward to the support of the central government, especially of the Defence Minister," said Kumaraswamy.
Lauding Nirmala Sitharaman for helping the state government in the rescue operations and visiting the flood-hit areas, the Chief Minister said the state and relief agencies were jointly working to rehabilitate the flood-hit people with the Union government's support.
"Mahesh has tirelessly worked to oversee the rescue and relief operations by being with the teams on the ground since day one," he said.
Kumaraswamy's comments came a day after the Defence Ministry clarified reports in the media that Nirmala Sitharaman was "angry with Mahesh" at the flood-review meeting at Madikeri over the issue of protocol.
The media reports also alleged that Mahesh made personal remarks against the Minister.
The controversy arose when Mahesh objected to the Defence Minister meeting ex-servicemen, as her visit was for reviewing the rescue and relief operations in which the Army, Navy and Air Force were also involved.
Earlier on Saturday, the Ministry of Defence on Saturday said that it was unfortunate the way he behaved adding some of Mahesh's subsequent personal remarks against her were in bad taste. In an official clarification, the Ministry of Defence referred to media reports that she got angry with Mahesh during the flood review meeting with the Kodagu district administrator and said Mahesh's remark lowered the dignity of the Rajya Sabha which showed utter lack of regard and knowledge about Indian polity.
"On completion of the field visit, as per the programme, the Defence Minister was interacting with ex-servicemen who had also been affected by the floods when the (state) Minister insisted that meeting with the officials be conducted first," said the Ministry in a statement.
When Nirmala Sitharaman clarified to Mahesh that ex-servicemen's welfare was part of her ministry and her meeting with them was scheduled in the programme by the district administration, the latter insisted that she stop the interaction and proceed to the review meeting with the officials.