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Jaishankar calls Congress's response to oxygen appeal by Philippines a publicity stunt

‘Is the MEA sleeping @DrSJaishankar,’ Jairam Ramesh tweeted

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during a UNSC open debate, via video conferencing, in New Delhi | PTI External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar | PTI

Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar launched an attack on senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Sunday after the latter asked whether the External Affairs Ministry was ‘sleeping’, as the Youth Congress attended to alleged SOS calls for oxygen from foreign embassies.

The war of words began on Saturday evening after Congress supplied oxygen to critical patients in two foreign embassies—New Zealand and the Philippines. Oxygen cylinders were delivered by Youth Congress and videos of same were 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?," Ramesh had tweeted.

Jaisahankar, in reply to the tweet, wrote, “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." "Jairamji, MEA never sleeps; our people know across the world. MEA also never fakes; we know who does,” Jaishankar wrote in another tweet.

The Youth Congress tweeted how the Philippines embassy had reached out to them about the urgent requirement for oxygen cylinders. The post read, "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."

Several foreign publications have criticised the BJP-led Union government's handling of the coronavirus crisis in India.

The foreign ministry spokesperson, in a statement, said, "The Chief of Protocol and Heads of Divisions are in continuous touch with all High Commissions/Embassies and MEA is responding to their medical demands, especially those related to Covid. This includes facilitating their hospital treatment".

In the second case relating to the New Zealand High Commission, the appeal to Youth Congress President B.V. Srinivas for help made through a Twitter post was deleted soon after the Jaishankar-Ramesh Twitter spat gained ground.

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