The hero returns
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, with his calm fortitude, has emerged quite the hero of the latest Indo-Pak air strikes. If in ancient times epics were written on war heroes, or paeans composed, now it’s videos followed by full-length film. It seems a script is already been readied by a big banner on Abhinandan’s exploits — the grit and calm he displayed in captivity. Such was the adoration that the much-edited video that Pakistan released just before his release angered even those who had praised Pakistan PM Imran Khan for his ‘peace gesture’.
Worst hit, however, were the bellicose TV anchors and their footsoldiers waiting at the Wagah border to report on the Wing Commander’s return: they had to keep spinning their yarn with empty cartridges till 9 pm. The delay, it seems, was because of the detour for the video shoot and, needless to add, for the doctoring thereafter. One line is that the distasteful twist was provided by the Pakistan deep state to put Khan in his place.
Among all the memes and videos that flooded the social media in the tense days following dogfight at LoC — in which our good old MiG-21 Bison (armed with the Soviet-era R-73 missile) felled the technologically superior F-16 (albeit a second-hand Jordanian import to Pakistan, as some young Twitter warriors unearthed)— there was one in particular that stood out. Framed as a dialogue, it offered Pakistan the anchors who sat in the comfort of their TV studios raising the war temperature, in exchange for Abhinandan’s release.
The reply was, India can keep their war-mongering anchors but also please take their Pakistani counterparts too! Meanwhile, the serious business of de-escalation was brokered by the US, the Saudi royal prince and China, which did not want Pakistan to spiral into a point of no return.
Expression not right
The Atal Behari Vajpayee portrait unveiled by President Ram Nath Kovind in the Central Hall of Parliament, in the last session of the outgoing Lok Sabha, has been taken down. Not for any other reason, but for a facelift. It seems, the Prime Minister did not quite appreciate Vajpayee’s expression in the portrait. “Kuchh theek nahin hai,” is how he put it. Last heard, artist Krishna Kanhai was redoing it.
From 3G to 4G
It’s not for nothing that the Uttar Pradesh satraps, Mayawati especially, have taken to Twitter like duck to water. In some ways, UP is a rural hinterland no more. Broadband connectivity pervades small kasbas across the state — and it’s no longer powered by 3G but 4G spectrum. If political parties are to be believed, the Lok Sabha elections will be fought on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp like never before. Along with the BJP, which has the first mover’s advantage, the SP, BSP, Congress are readying their social media armies for the new battle. Hindi, therefore, is logging higher numbers on social media.
No AAP, INC tie-up
Contrary to last-minute speculation on an opposition rethink post-Pulwama, an AAP-Congress alliance in Delhi did not come through. Not because of Delhi, but because of AAP ambitions elsewhere. Arvind Kejriwal’s demand for three seats each in Haryana and Punjab in exchange for an understanding in Delhi came in the way. Just the way Mayawati’s demand for sizeable numbers in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra from the Congress kitty came in the way of a UP Mahagathbandhan.
The author is Political Editor, TNIE.