- He said Abhinandan Varthaman became fighter pilot during UPA rule
- He accused BJP of "encashing national gratitude for political gain"
- Abhinandan Varthaman returned from Pak captivity on Friday
At a time when politicians across the country are trying to cash in on the heroics of Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Abhinandan Varthaman in an India-Pakistan aerial dogfight, Congress leader Salman Khurshid on Sunday tried throwing his party's hat into the ring too. "Many kudos for Wing Commander Abhi Varthaman, the face of India's resistance to enemy aggression. Great poise and confidence in face of adversity. We are proud that he received his wings in 2004 and matured as a fighter pilot during UPA (rule)," Mr Khurshid tweeted.
But Twitter users wouldn't buy it. While some mercilessly trolled him for going to great lengths just for finding a Congress connection to Wing Commander Varthaman's achievements, others simply asked Mr Khurshid to refrain from politicising the issue.
"What next? Wing Cmdr Abhinandan was born in 1983, so all credit to Indira Gandhi for his birth?" asked columnist Shefali Vaidya in a tweet. Another user, Pranjali Singh, sarcastically appealed for everybody to "come together and seek the Nobel Peace Prize" for Mr Khurshid. The Congress leader, however, remained undaunted. A few hours later, he posted a tweet condemning BJP politicans for "encashing national gratitude for political gain".
Sir, if only even you had matured during UPA term, you wouldn't have tweeted this non-sense..— The-Lying-Lama (@KyaUkhaadLega) March 2, 2019
@salman7khurshid shd be proud that 16 croer People were born in India during UPA I and II,— enthilVelan (@isvelan) March 2, 2019
Shortly after the release of the IAF pilot was first announced on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had hinted that the "pilot project" was completed and a real one would soon follow. Opposition leaders responded with appeals that the ruling BJP refrain from politicising an episode that put Indian Air Force officers into such a dire situation.
BJP leader Manoj Tiwari addressed a party rally wearing military fatigues in New Delhi on Saturday, drawing accusations of trying to cash in on the India-Pakistan face-off at a time when the country was gearing up for the Lok Sabha polls. Mr Tiwari, however, rejected the opposition's allegations. "I put on (the uniform) simply because I felt proud of my army. I am not in Indian army but I was expressing my feeling of solidarity. Why should it be treated like an insult?" he tweeted, wondering if Jawaharlal Nehru would feel insulted if he happened to wear a Nehru jacket.
Meanwhile, doctors and IAF seniors say that Wing Commander Varthaman is already raring to return to the cockpit -- days after his return from captivity across the border. According to news agency PTI, he said this to senior IAF commanders as well as doctors treating him at the Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi Cantonment. His health is currently being monitored by a group of doctors at the military facility.