After cricket and jalebis began to dominate the Delhi pollution debate, with AAP's unforgiving attack on East Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir for skipping a key meeting of a parliamentary committee on the capital’s air crisis, 'Missing' posters of the cricketer-turned politician were spotted in Delhi's ITO, escalating the criticism further.
In a classic parody of missing persons report, posters screaming 'Lapata' or 'Missing' written in bright shades of red, along with a smiling photo of Gambhir were found pinned to the bark of trees in central Delhi. Under the image, a message : "Have you seen this man? He was last spotted in Indore enjoying jalebis. The whole of Delhi is searching for him," it reads.
Gambhir, who was in Indore as a commentator for the India-Bangladesh cricket fixture, gave the crucial high-profile meeting organised to address the alarming levels of noxious pollution engulfing Delhi, a miss in a move that was vehemently decried by politicians and citizens alike.
A photo shared by former Indian cricketer VVS Laxman Friday showed him savouring jalebis with Gambhir — something the AAP latched on to. “Instead of sitting in commentary box and enjoying, we challenge Gautam Gambhir to stop playing blame games over pollution and attend meetings on air pollution which he skipped,” read a tweet by the party’s official handle.
However, the cricketer immediately hit back with a message that he posted on Twitter in an attempt to steer clear of all allegations. “My commitment to my constituency and my city should be judged by the work that is happening there,” Gambhir said in a statement, listing some of the works in progress by the East Delhi MP. “I have not entered politics to make money but I do have a family to support. I believe in hard-earned money and not using public funds to further political ambitions” he said.
“Our Hon’ble MP claims he skipped a meeting on air pollution in order to earn a living. In the same breath, he says he pledges his salary as an MP for his constituency. Going in circles like a jalebi to defend the indefensible,” Atishi said, referring to Gambhir’s note on Twitter.
Gambhir wasn’t the only one missing from the meeting — DDA vice-chairman Tarun Kapoor and all three MCD commissioners were among other notable absentees. Among four Parliamentarians of the 29-member committee who turned up was AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh. The Lok Sabha Secretariat sent notices to the members and officers on November 8, requesting them to attend the meeting, held at the Parliament Annexe.
The meeting came after the Supreme Court on Friday pulled up the Delhi government over it’s Odd-Even scheme to tackle pollution saying it was ‘half-baked’ and despite its implementation, pollution levels were on the rise. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has said a final call on extending the odd-even road rationing scheme would be taken on Monday morning as the air quality in the national capital is expected to improve in the next two-three days.