Gautam Gambhir has responded to the avalanche of criticism from AAP leaders after he missed a high-level parliamentary panel meeting on the air pollution crisis in Delhi. Mr Gambhir, who is in Madhya Pradesh's Indore to commentate on the India vs Bangladesh cricket match, posted a long note on his Twitter account in which he said my work "will speak for itself" and then criticised the AAP for "making my commercial engagements (which were entered into before I had become an MP) an issue..."
Gautam Gambhir was the only MP from Delhi who had been summoned to the meeting that was scheduled to start 11 am. Attendance was poor, with only four of 29 MPs summoned turning up.
Earlier today Mr Gambhir was mercilessly trolled after fellow former cricketer VVS Laxman tweeted a photo of the two of them eating jalebis and poha in Indore on the day of the parliamentary panel meet.
My work will speak for itself!— Gautam Gambhir (@GautamGambhir) November 15, 2019
P.S. Agar mujhe gaali dene se Dilli ka pollution kam hoga to AAP jee bhar ke gaali dijiye. cc: Trolls pic.twitter.com/bRyYoFB02c
Mr Gambhir, who repeatedly sparred with the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi, including Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, both during his election campaign and since, was swiftly targeted by AAP leaders and other Twitter users, leading to #ShameOnGautamGambhir trending across the country.
Instead of sitting in commentary box and enjoying...— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) November 15, 2019
We challenge @GautamGambhir to stop playing blame games over pollution and ATTEND MEETINGS ON AIR POLLUTION which he skipped
Contempt of Court! Strict action should be taken against all absentees!#ShameOnGautamGambhirhttps://t.co/KrA6NtoOQHpic.twitter.com/dXOycuaYSP
AAP posted multiple tweets criticising Mr Gambhir for not attending the meeting.
Delhi is choking & @GautamGambhir is busy enjoying in Indore.— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) November 15, 2019
The MP should come to Delhi and ATTEND MEETINGS on AIR POLLUTION which was cancelled because
❌MP's of Delhi
none of the officials SHOWED UP!#ShameOnGautamGambhirhttps://t.co/A1yDLyYZ7vpic.twitter.com/feowi4q5xX
The party also pointed out its Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh attended the meeting.
While MP's like Gautam Gambhir are busy enjoying— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) November 15, 2019
AAP Rajya Sabha MP, @SanjayAzadSln ATTENDED the Parliament standing committee's meeting on AIR POLLUTION.@GautamGambhir, is this the level of your seriousness regarding air pollution?#ShameOnGautamGambhirpic.twitter.com/eFqi1O9DIe
Saurabh Bharadwaj, the AAP MLA for Delhi's Greater Kailash neighbourhood, also took to Twitter, reminding Mr Gambhir he had "7 days to eat Jalebi & poha" before returning to attend the meeting.
Parliamentary Committee meeting notice date 8 Nov was well in advance.@GautamGambhir You had 7 days to eat Jalebi & poha.— Saurabh Bharadwaj (@Saurabh_MLAgk) November 15, 2019
Expected from someone who could use body double for Election campaigning.
Mr Bharadwaj also posted a nearly three-minute long video on his official Twitter account, in which he accused Gautam Gambhir of abusing privileges of Parliament.
BJP calls Parliamentary Committee meeting on Pollution symbolic. MCD Commissioners & DDA VC remain absent. MP @GautamGambhir only giving Twitter Gyan but doesn't attend this meeting .— Saurabh Bharadwaj (@Saurabh_MLAgk) November 15, 2019
Will Contempt proceedings be initiated against erring officers ? Its BJP plan to punish Delhi ? pic.twitter.com/5jM6YzVJ29
"Today, there was a parliamentary meeting about pollution in Delhi. You will be worried to know that our East Delhi MP, Gautam Gambhir, was not present... strict action should be taken against those who were not present. They are clearly in contempt of the powers and privileges of parliament," the AAP MLA said in the video.
Other AAP MLAs have also hit out at Gautam Gambhir, including Jarnail Singh, who represents Tilak Nagar in the western part of the city.
Delhi is Choking & @GautamGambhir is busy eating Jalebi & Poha in Indore.— Jarnail Singh (@JarnailSinghAAP) November 15, 2019
FYI : there was a meeting called by Committee on Urban Development to discuss Pollution in Delhi NCR & he missed it.#ShameOnGautamGambhirhttps://t.co/TYuk90n4He
Twitter users also took aim at Mr Gambhir, with one demanding to know how he would contrive to blame Arvind Kejriwal for failing to attend the meeting.
Another user posted a dual image - of Mr Gambhir laughing and school girls covering their faces while walking through a poisonous haze.
A third tweet simply read: "Delhi kids Vs Delhi's MP".
In the short time since Gautam Gambhir made his political debut (he joined the BJP in May), AAP and the former Indian cricket team captain have clashed repeatedly.
Last month Mr Gambhir took a swipe at Arvind Kejriwal after the Chief Minister launched a programme to get rid of potholes from Delhi's roads. His constituency has some of the worst traffic jams in the city.
"Please go slow. There are many potholes. We know the realities of Delhi. But to keep yourself happy it's a good thought," he tweeted in Hindi to the tune of Geeta Dutt's 1954 hit song "Babuji Dheere Chalna".
Mr Gambhir was also involved in an explosive row with AAP leader Atishi, who was the party's candidate for the Delhi (East) seat, after he was accused of circulating a derogatory and scurrilous pamphlet that allegedly contained personal attacks on his opponent.
The parliamentary committee that called for the meeting has taken strong objection to the absence of the parliamentarians. Actor-politician Hema Malini, BJP MP from Mathura, was also absent.
"You have told me about this. I will find out the details and investigate. We are always very serious about pollution. I have emphasised that pollution is not only Delhi's problem. I have ordered joint action plan. Teams are working with coordination," Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters.