Jaishankar fumes on Youth Congress giving away 'unsolicited' oxygen cylinders to the Philippine embassy
The Narendra Modi government on Sunday accused the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) of giving away “unsolicited” oxygen cylinders to the Philippine embassy for “cheap publicity”, only to end up with egg on its face when the New Zealand high commission made a public request for oxygen to the IYC — the youth wing of the Congress.
“@sosiyc @srinivasiyc Could you please help with oxygen cylinder urgently at New Zealand High Commission? Thank You,” the appeal from the verified Twitter handle of the New Zealand mission said, exactly one minute after external affairs minister S. Jaishankar had berated the Congress.
MEA checked with the Philippines Embassy. This was an unsolicited supply as they had no Covid cases. Clearly for cheap publicity by you know who. Giving away cylinders like this when there are people in desperate need of oxygen is simply appalling. @Jairam_Ramesh https://t.co/G3jPE3c0nR— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) May 2, 2021
The MEA later took to Twitter to say it was “responding to the medical demands” of embassies and high commissions and added: “Given the pandemic situation, all are urged not to hoard essential supplies, including oxygen.” Several members of the diplomatic corps are said to have tested positive.
@sosiyc and @srinivasiyc — the Twitter handles of the relief campaign of the IYC and the Congress youth wing president B.V. Srinivas, respectively — are the most tagged in appeals for help for Covid patients. But to have a foreign embassy also reach out to the Opposition party rather than the government appeared to have got Jaishankar’s goat.
“MEA checked with the Philippines Embassy. This was an unsolicited supply as they had no Covid cases. Clearly for cheap publicity by you know who. Giving away cylinders like this when there are people in desperate need of oxygen is simply appalling.
We are trying all sources to arrange for oxygen cylinders urgently and our appeal has unfortunately been misinterpreted, for which we are sorry.— NZ in India (@NZinIndia) May 2, 2021
Jairamji, MEA never sleeps; our people know across the world. MEA also never fakes; we know who does,’’ Jaishankar tweeted on Sunday morning, responding to Congress leader Jairam Ramesh who had said he was “stunned that the youth wing of the opposition party is attending to SOS calls from foreign embassies” and asked if the MEA was sleeping.
Jaishankar tweeted at 9.14am and the New Zealand high commission’s appeal to the IYC came at 9.15am.
This was soon deleted and a fresh tweet posted at 10.07am, which said: “We are trying all sources to arrange for oxygen cylinders urgently and our appeal has unfortunately been misinterpreted, for which we are sorry.” There had been no other appeal for oxygen over the past three days on the mission’s verified Twitter handle.
Subsequently, Srinvas tweeted a video of his team delivering cylinders to the mission and said: “New Zealand high commission opened gates of the embassy and accepted cylinders. Also, they thanked the #SOSIYC team for this quick relief as patient inside embassy was critically ill.’’
The Youth Congress also replied to Jaishankar from its handle @IYC, tweeting: “Please excuse us for the delayed response, actually we were busy fulfilling a request at the New Zealand Embassy.”
It continued: “We got a request for an urgent requirement of Oxygen Cylinders for 2 Covid patients in Philippines Embassy. The Cylinders were delivered at the embassy on a much solicited request. Post delivery embassy thanked us on Facebook. All screenshots attached with names and number masked.”
Srinivas told The Telegraph the Youth Congress had got a request over phone for cylinders for the Philippines embassy. “Would an embassy in the most secure zone of the capital open its gates for us in the night if there was no request for cylinders on the premises? We got several calls for cylinders and we delivered….”
The Opposition leaders on Sunday asked the Modi government to focus on the pandemic and ensure uninterrupted supply of oxygen to hospitals amid reports of shortages from several states leading to the deaths of many patients, our special correspondent reports.