Refusing to learn any lessons from their past misadventures in the cyber space, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders and their online soldiers have again encountered two major embarrassments. In less than 24 hours, the party leaders and their supporters posted two misleading pictures online and ended up with egg on their faces.
In the first case, BJP spokesperson and fashion designer Shaina NC and Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Patel, in association with party’s cyber soldiers, circulated an old and misleading picture of the victim who was allegedly stalked and harassed by Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala’s son Vikas Barala in Chandigarh recently.
Shaina, who is also treasurer of the Maharashtra BJP wing, hours within casting aspersions on Varnika Kundu, deleted her tweet. She claimed that her account had been hacked by “mischievous folks”. Even though Prashant was also quick to delete the controversial tweet without an apology or explanation, many were quick to pointing this out.
Altnews was the first to expose how BJP spokesperson and fashion designer Shaina NC, Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Patel, an author of fake news site postcard.news, Rupa Murthy and party’s cyber soldiers joined hands to circulate an old and misleading picture of the victim to create a false narrative.
While posting the misleading picture, Prashant Patel had tweeted, “So called victim daughter of IAS from Chandigarh with Vikas Barala. This story is as true as like Jasleen Kaur of Delhi and of Rohtak Sisters.”
Similarly, Shaina had posted the picture on twitter, saying: “So called victim Beti with Vikas Barala.” While seeking “justice for the son of Subash Barala (Haryana BJP chief)”, she also commented that the “story is as true as like Jasleen Kaur of Delhi and of Rohtak Sisters.” What a coincidence and more likely, handiwork of the BJP cyber army which fed both Shaina and Prashant.
The posts were soon picked up by many on social media and a misleading narrative started building up before it was exposed.
Altnews spoke to the victim and she stated that “the image is many years old and the accused Vikas Barala is not present in the image.” The Alt News report added that Kuldeep Barala has also deleted the post in which he went on to claim that the victim herself was inebriated while she was driving, according to his sources.
“To prove his point, Kuldeep Barala downloaded a picture from the victim’s Facebook album and used it as an attachment. The picture showed the victim sitting on a table with a few glasses of seemingly alcoholic drinks,” the report adds.
In the second case, BJP’s Karnataka IT Cell tweeted out a picture showing a Mumbai road peppered with potholes, calling it a road in Bengaluru. The state goes to the polls next year. Hence, one can understand the level of desperation within BJP that they have to pass off a picture of a potholed road from Sion in Mumbai as a road in Bengaluru.
The party tweeted and shared the picture on its Facebook wall claiming: “NASA found people walking on moon, later BBMP confirmed it as Bengaluru road :)”
However, social media users were quick to point out that the picture was in fact shot by The Times of India photojournalist SL Shantha Kumar and was splashed across four columns of paper’s Mumbai edition.
Here’s a collection of sharp and sarcastic reactions:
Incidentally, Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur was trolled over a fake video circulated by the right-wingers, a few months ago. The misleading video featured a young woman singing and dancing in a moving car.
Notably, in the past, BJP leaders have got exposed time and again for manufacturing and spreading fake news on social media.
Delhi BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma was rebuked for passing off a picture of the 2002 Gujarat riots as that of the violence in West Bengal's Basirhat, and spreading rumours on twitter.
On Facebook, Kerala BJP leader K Surendran shared gory pictures of slaughtered cows in May, 2017 to condemn ‘cow slaughter’ in his state.
Union Minister Babul Supriyo tweeted out a representational image, saying: “This is not an Airport. It's not in London or New York either. It's the New Bus Stand inaugurated in Rajkot, Gujarat.”
Speaking at a TV debate over the central government's order to install Indian National Flag in central universities, BJP Spokesperson Sambit Patra showed a photoshopped image on his tablet. The point he was trying to make was how dying Indian soldiers were holding up the Tricolour at the border. Ironically, the image he was showing to the viewers was a photoshopped version of photojournalist Joe Rosenthal’s iconic image taken during World War II. The picture titled: “Raising the flag at Iwo Jima” got him the Pulitzer Prize.
Interestingly, there are several doctored pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is touted as the second most followed politician on Twitter. In December 2015, the Central government had circulated a doctored photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi surveying severe flooding in Chennai.
A black-and-white photo of Narendra Modi holding a broom and cleaning floor had gone viral during the run-up to parliamentary elections in 2014. Later on, it was found that the picture was fake.
More stories of photoshop love exhibited by BJP’s cyber soldiers for PM Narendra Modi can be read here.