Note: The report has been updated with a comment from the New Zealand Prime Minister.
A day after the Youth Congress pulled off a publicity stunt by pretending to supply oxygen cylinders to the Philippines embassy, the New Zealand embassy has now reached out for help to Youth Congress National President Srinivas BV.
In a tweet on Sunday (May 2), the New Zealand embassy in India bypassed the Ministry of External Affairs and sought oxygen supply from the youth wing of the Opposition Congress party. “Srinivas BV, could you please help with oxygen cylinder urgently at the New Zealand High Commission? Thank you,” the tweet read.
Srinivas B V then reached the New Zealand High Commission with oxygen cylinders along with other Congress workers. “We have reached New Zealand High Commission with oxygen cylinders. Please open the gates and save a soul on time. #SOSIYC”
In another tweet, he informed, “Update- 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.”
Netizens question the New Zealand embassy for its theatrics
Netizens were quick to question the action of the New Zealand embassy on social media. BJP MP Tejasvi Surya tweeted, “MEA has clarified that Embassy of Philippines has 0 COVID cases. Looking at IYC’s stunt of trying to give oxygen to that Embassy, a social media handler of the Embassy of New Zealand tweeted without putting request to MEA. HC of NZ has now apologized to MEA for this misinformation.”
MEA has clarified that Embassy of Philippines has 0 COVID cases.— Tejasvi Surya (@Tejasvi_Surya) May 2, 2021
Looking at IYC’s stunt of trying to give oxygen to that Embassy, a social media handler of Embassy of New Zealand tweeted without putting request to MEA.
HC of NZ has now apologized to MEA for this misinformation. https://t.co/Z81xtcQdhq
Veteran journalist Kanchan Gupta asked whether the Ministry of External Affairs was contacted by the New Zealand High Commission prior to asking the Youth Congress President. “But for whom is @NZinIndia trying to “arrange for oxygen cylinders urgently”? Who needs them? Was @MEAIndia contacted?” he inquired.
Did @NZinIndia open its gates? The New Zealand High Commission must tell— Kanchan Gupta (@KanchanGupta) May 2, 2021
1. Whom did they ask the oxygen for?
2. Did they contact MEA prior to public appeal?
3. If yes, what was MEA response?
[I won’t even ask where are IYC folks getting O2 in Delhi even as ICUs are running dry.] pic.twitter.com/rOD3cuIkem
He further questioned, “Did @NZinIndia open its gates? The New Zealand High Commission must tell 1. Whom did they ask the oxygen for? 2. Did they contact MEA prior to public appeal? 3. If yes, what was MEA response? [I won’t even ask where are IYC folks getting O2 in Delhi even as ICUs are running dry.]”
Following the controversy, the New Zealand embassy in India deleted its initial tweet. “We are trying all sources to arrange for oxygen cylinders urgently and our appeal has unfortunately been misinterpreted, for which we are sorry,” it apologised in a tweet.
Update: [3rd May, 2021] New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adern has now issued a statement over the matter saying that a local individual required an oxygen cylinder. However, she said that ‘normal channels’ should have been used for the same and pointed out that their High Commission had already apologised over the matter.
Congress pulls off publicity stunt outside Philippines embassy, EAM slams party
On Saturday (May 1), Congress leader Jairam Ramesh took to Twitter to thank the Youth Congress for supposedly responding to an emergency call for oxygen supply by the Embassy of the Republic of Philippines. He tweeted, “While I thank @IYC for its stellar efforts, as an Indian citizen I’m stunned that the youth wing of the opposition party is attending to SOS calls from foreign embassies. Is the MEA sleeping @DrSJaishankar ?” Jairam Ramesh had shared a video posted by Srinivas B V, the National President of the Youth Congress.
In the said video, a few people could be seen unloading an oxygen cylinder from a vehicle outside the Philippines embassy. A day later on Sunday, Union Minister for External Affairs (EAM) S Jaishankar responded to the claims made by senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Twitter. He informed that the MEA verified the matter with the Philippines embassy and found that they had no Coronavirus cases. “MEA checked with the Philippines Embassy. This was an unsolicited supply as they had no Covid cases,” he wrote.
S Jaishankar further emphasised how the Congress party was denying oxygen cylinders to needy patients in its pursuit of petty politics. “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,” he pointed out. The Union Minister for External Affairs concluded, “Jairamji, MEA never sleeps; our people know across the world. MEA also never fakes; we know who does.”