Viral sensation and national hero, Indian Air Force (AIF) pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, is back in the headlines after the leader of the Indian National Congress called for his facial hair to be declared the ‘national mustache.’
“Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman should be awarded and his moustache should be made ‘national moustache,’” Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, leader of the Indian National Congress in the Lok Sabha (India’s parliament), said Monday.
Many online were quick to deride the outlandish comments. “National Moustache?? What else next – National Beard? BTW Why Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury himself not sporting the Abhinandan moustache??” wrote one perplexed Twitter user, with many in agreement, with one user adding that it’s not even the most absurd thing they’ve seen in the Indian parliament.
Chowdhury argued that Varthaman should receive national honors for shooting down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet during a dogfight in the skies above the border region between the two rival countries in February, just moments before his own aircraft, a MiG-21 Bison, was downed and he was captured by the Pakistani military.
He was released as a “gesture of peace” on March 1 and received a hero’s welcome back in his native India and quickly becoming a viral phenomenon thanks, in part, to his distinctive facial mane.
Interest in Varthaman was renewed recently when an advertisement aired on Pakistani television appeared to mock the pilot, ahead of the bitter rivals’ cricket test match (which Pakistan went on to lose).
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