After some initial bonhomie and welcome messages, a virtual war has begun between the two celebrity challengers to sitting Congress MP Pawan Kumar Bansal in Chandigarh — Gul Panag of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Kirron Kher of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). There are now attacks and counter-attacks through some loaded ‘tweets’ and ‘retweets’ about past comments and shifting loyalties, even fitness and age, on social networking site Twitter.
Miffed at the BJP repeatedly publicising an earlier “supportive” tweet of hers about the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Panag on Tuesday hit out with a series of her earlier tweets that she termed ‘Down memory lane’. She told HT, “The BJP is just quoting one of the tweets out of a sequence of many tweets full of sarcasm and satire, which preceded that pro-Modi tweet. My tweet of June 1, 2012, said the choice between BJP and Congress was like one between fire and the frying pan. Since we have long been roasted in fire, we might as well try the latter. I am not sure if they got the sarcasm and the satire.”
She then countered by showing two tweets by actor Anupam Kher, Kirron’s husband, in which he had blasted the BJP while supporting Anna Hazare during the anti-corruption movement. It was from this movement that the AAP emerged, though Hazare has kept a distance from the Arvind Kejriwal-led party. And that was not all. Panag, who is 35, sparked a fresh row by tweeting on Tuesday: “Doubt if I’ll have the energy to run around like this and serve my people, when I’m 60.I guess that’s why there’s normally a retirement age.” She had, just before that, tweeted: “The marathon stamina is coming in handy to deal with these 20 hr days.”
Kirron, who happens to be a year and some months short of 60, did not take kindly to the pun. She debuted on the site within four hours of Panag’s tweet, and tweeted: “My father is 101 years old and still happening. He said, ‘Good Luck Puttar. You have always been winner.’ For me life starts at 60.” It was retweeted by her husband Anupam.
She was blunt when talking to HT, “So far we have remained cordial to each other. But Gul Panag should not lie about Anupam having spoken against the BJP. As for her tweet on my age, I have tweeted my response. For me, life starts at 60, and I have the blessings of my 101-year-old father to fight this contest and emerge victorious.”
In yet another tweet, she added: “I may not be a marathon runner but I know Slow and Steady wins the race. I love the Josh [enthusiasm] in our Karyakartas [party workers].”
Kirron’s husband Anupam has not been a direct participant so far, at least till the filing of this report on Wednesday night. He was busy retweeting the tweets of his wife and also those of others about her. The most interesting was by BJP-supporting writer Madhu Kishwar: “Kirron Kher is a heavy weight in every sense in comparison to feather light Gul Panag.”
Later, Kishwar asked Kirron on Twitter if she was fine with being called a “heavy weight”, and the BJP candidate replied, “I would have been very upset if you had called me anything else.”