Trolled for Ayushman Bharat rants, Nirmala Sitharaman cancels presser
Nirmala Sitharaman, who was supposed to address the media at 3 pm, cancelled her press conference at the last minute
BANSWADA: It appears, the morning roars of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman ended up as whimpers by twilight on Friday. The key minister of the NDA government at the Centre, who was supposed to address the media at Varni in Banswada district at 3 pm, cancelled her press conference at the last minute. As per speculation, Nirmala Sitharaman has developed cold feet, especially following a torrent of criticism led by Telangana Finance and Health Minister Harish Rao, on her comments about Modi photo at fair price shop and the issue of Ayushman Bharat.
Instead of addressing the media, the Union minister took part in an extensive meeting of the party cadre. The meeting venue was also made off-limits for the waiting media. The contingent of media representatives, who were earlier sounded about the press meet, had to return empty-handed with no clarity on Sitharaman's position on the Ayushman Bharat issue.
Following the turn of events over her utterances, Nirmala Sitharaman, it is reliably learnt, has decided not to show up at the press meet, largely to avoid a barrage of uncomfortable questions. She reportedly came to the realisation that she had indeed landed herself in a 'foot-in-mouth' situation, particularly with her assertions over Ayushman Bharat scheme.
Harish Rao, in his counter-offensive, threw the gauntlet of resignation at the Union Finance Minister. Stating that he would be ready to resign if Sitharaman proved Telangana's non-participation in Ayushman Bharat, he also asked her if she would do the same in the event of failing to prove it.
Rattled by the sharp reaction, the Union minister is understood to have gone on the defensive and, as a result, decided to skip the press meet. In a desperate damage-control exercise, the minister's PRO has reportedly sent feelers that the minister would address the media in Hyderabad after thoroughly studying the central schemes.
The apprehensions expressed by a few within the Telangana BJP were also said to have played their part in pre-empting Nirmala Sitharaman's press meet plans. A few senior party leaders reportedly felt that the minister harping on the issue could only precipitate the matter and lead to further resistance from within Telangana which, they thought, would be counter-productive, especially before the electoral showdown in Munugode.