New Delhi: There’s no dearth of creativity in India, especially on social media. Unless the newsmaker of the week happens to have a surname like ‘Pilot’ — then, all you get is one long series of aviation-related puns that… fail to get off the ground.
It wasn’t just a blip on the radar — from politicians to businessmen to usual suspects like headline-writers, everyone was on the same (air)plane when it came to Sachin Pilot’s rebellion against Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, and the former’s removal as deputy CM and state Congress president.
Sample this from trained pilot and BJP spokesperson Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda: “In aviation, every flight plan includes an alternate airport or airstrip to divert to in the event of technical problems or severe bad weather. Every experienced pilot knows this.”
In aviation, every flight plan includes an alternate airport or airstrip to divert to in the event of technical problems or severe bad weather. Every experienced pilot knows this.
— Baijayant Jay Panda (@PandaJay) July 14, 2020
Or this, from business tycoon Harsh Goenka, chairman of the RPG Group: “Congress carries on. Can anyone tell me who is the Pilot?”
Congress carries on. Can anyone tell me who is the Pilot ?
— Harsh Goenka (@hvgoenka) July 14, 2020
Print media on autopilot
As the turbulence in Jaipur continued, no oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling — just more Pilot puns from the news media.
‘Congress ejects Pilot as dy CM, PCC chief amid Raj turbulence’ read Times of India’s headline Wednesday morning.
Hindustan Times added: ‘Congress ejects Pilot from power; CM Gehlot still in Rajasthan cockpit’.
The New Indian Express headline said: ‘Sachin Pilot on a crash course, say Congress veterans’.
Even a pithy editorial in The Tribune, titled ‘Pilot crash-lands’, managed to squeeze in the joke: “Sachin was really in the pilot’s seat and there was absolutely no need for a crash-landing.”
Minutes after Pilot and ministers in his camp, Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena, were removed, The Federal wrote: ‘Pilot’s flight of ambition crash lands, crew sacked from key posts’.
The article went deeper into the symbolism of his surname, saying: “Sometimes it is easy to believe that your chosen name is your destiny. Sachin Pilot… may have made the mistake of taking a leap of ambition, believing it was their fate to always fly high. But, in politics, like in aviation, there is a point beyond which you just can’t fly, unless, of course, you are ready to risk everything.”
Even the Hindi media charted the same course — Dainik Bhaskar went with ‘Gehlot sarkar mein Pilot ab co-pilot nahin’, or Pilot no longer the co-pilot in Gehlot’s government.
The Twitter handle of the blog @churumuri even compiled a list of all the Pilot puns in the print media.
Everybody’s missing air travel. pic.twitter.com/aq65feCFFw
— churumuri (@churumuri) July 15, 2020
TV media’s flight of fancy
TV channels, who regularly employ puns in their ticker headlines, took it up a notch with the ‘Pilot’ wordplay.
AajTak asked ‘Gehlot to remain captain, Pilot’s flight crashed?’ in a Monday night segment.
ABP News wondered about Pilot joining the BJP, asking ‘Will sacked Pilot fly solo or crash Gehlot using BJP?’
NDTV went with the turbulence pun, saying ‘Sachin Pilot’s flight triggers turbulence in Ashok Gehlot’s govt’, in its Monday night debate.
A news-flash by India TV asked ‘Which runway will Pilot land on now’, while Times Now said Pilot had his ‘wings clipped by Gehlot’.
A Twitter user even joked that underscore between the name and surname in the trending hashtag #Sachin_Pilot stands for the “pause between #Sachinpilot Take off and landing in BJP”.
Its the Pause between #Sachinpilot Take off and landing in BJP 😂😂
— Rosy (@rose_k01) July 13, 2020
It was disappointing that no one went a step further — maybe Sachin Pilot’s ambition for more should’ve led to an ‘astronaut’ joke somewhere.
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