Newslaundry covers Assam elections – sans facts

Today, the media criticism blog “NewsLaundry”, which has recently received funding from Scroll-backers Omidyar group, posted an article titled ‘Everything you need to know about Assam’s upcoming elections’ on its website. The article starts with how little media attention the upcoming assembly elections in Assam have received from national media, vis-à-vis the coverage of Delhi elections. Which is absolutely true. So it is commendable that NewsLaundry chose to cover the Assam elections.

After a couple of paragraphs about the major issues in the elections, the article goes on to give brief descriptions about major political parties in the fray. And the focus of the article is one specific aspect, that none of the parties have released manifestos for the elections. In face this is also the byline of the article.

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Of course they mention that BJP has launched a ‘vison document’ in place of a manifesto. Although elections manifestos have lost its importance over the years, and it has turned into just an academic exercise, it is rather strange that no party has published a manifesto; given this one state election will see most intense fight among all the state elections this time. But is it true? Turns out, no.

Indian National Congress has released their 54 page manifesto for Assam elections on 24th March. Main talking point of Congress manifesto is promise of a job to a one person of every family in the state. They also promised several packages for specific groups and areas. And yes, this event was also widely covered by both regional and national media. Yet, Newslaundry has this to say about Congress:

With less than two weeks to go, the Congress has not yet released its manifesto.

Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) too launched its manifesto for assembly elections on 18th March 2016. The major promises made in the AGP manifesto are full implementation of Assam accord, protection of identity of indigenous people, job creation, protection of forests and wildlife, etc. This was covered by both regional and national media. Again, this is what Newslaundry has said on this issue:

Like the Congress, AGP has not bothered to release a manifesto for the upcoming elections.

Looks like someone has not bothered to do a basic fact-check.


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