In a clip that is going viral on social media, New Zealand (NZ) Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has commented on the controversy over the NZ High Commission in India reaching out to youth Congress leader Srinivas BV for help with oxygen supply for an ill staffer. She said that the Commission should have followed the “normal channels and protocols.”
Ardern added that the High Commission is receiving all necessary support from the Indian government amid the pandemic.
In a conversation with a journalist from a news channel, Ardern was asked about the controversy and the identity of the person who was unwell.
“Yes, we did see that there was a message that was put out. Our High Commission has apologized for the message. There are channels they can and should be going through for such matters. But, I should recognize that we do have a local staff member who is within the compound who has been very unwell. That was the basis on which the call was made,” she said.
Asked whether the whole controversy looks good on the Commission, Ardern replied: “The High Commission themselves have removed the tweet and acknowledged that that wasn’t the process that should have been used. It was verified and corrected there. But again, just an acknowledgment of the reason why they had done it in the first place...There are other means and channels in the High Commission that have found themselves very well supported by the Indian government and also acknowledged that they should have been using those normal channels and protocols.”
What Was the Controversy?
The New Zealand High Commission in New Delhi tweeted on Sunday, 2 May, that it had reached out to various sources for oxygen cylinders.
Earlier in the day, the embassy had tagged Srinivas BV, asking if he could help arrange oxygen cylinders. However, the tweet was later taken down.
Srinivas BV, National President of Congress’ Youth Wing, then tweeted a video of his team arriving at the New Zealand High Commission with oxygen cylinders.
Soon after, the Indian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it was in touch with the High Commissions and was responding to their medical demands.
“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. Given the pandemic situation, all are urged not to hoard essential supplies, including oxygen,” the statement mentioned.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar then traded barbs on Twitter over Ramesh’s comments that India’s Foreign Ministry was “sleeping”.