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TIME’s article on fake news: A biased, insidious piece against a political party they despise

The country, as well as the world, is marred by the scourge of Fake news. So instead of running a biased piece against the political party they despise, the TIME should rather direct their energies in exploring ways to curb the spread of fake news on various Social Media platforms.

The TIME has come up with an inherently biased article against the BJP claiming the saffron party is upping the ante to spread fake news through Whatsapp with the help of ‘volunteers’. Though the article intends to explain how Whatsapp is being employed by the parties across the political spectrum to push their agenda among the masses, it makes superficial references to falsities pervaded by the opposition parties and weighs their entire article only on the perceived shenanigans of the BJP IT machinery without any credible evidence.

The TIME has based their entire article around the premise that the BJP president Amit Shah, who has prepared a comprehensive “booth action plan” which is to drive the party’s extensive WhatsApp-based campaign for parliamentary election, circulating specially designed campaign material –video, audio, text, graphics and cartoons will be used by the BJP to spread fake news. Not for once the TIME considers this as an innovative attempt by a political party to woo its voters and establish a direct connection with them.

As per the Hindustan Times report, BJP party president Amit Shah has asked state units to compile the list of smartphone-carrying voters in every polling station. Once this list is ready, BJP MPs, MLAs, other elected representatives and officials will be asked to identify these cell phone pramukhs in the first round; the pramukhs will then create three WhatsApp group for each polling station, each group consisting of 256 persons (the maximum allowed on the platform).

Once the party has created uniquely designed campaign materials, on the party’s welfare programme, Modi’s personality, triple talaq, Ram temple and a range of other issues deemed appropriate by the high-command, they will then be shared with the respective state machinery for passing it on to the nodal persons at the booth, who will share them on the WhatsApp groups operated by them.

This is nothing but an extension of what BJP used to do in the pre-WhatsApp era. The party earlier appointed a booth manager to manage a booth, identified voters on paper and then reached out to them on a house-to-house basis. So by adopting a new means to communicate their message to the masses, the BJP is simply harnessing the penetration of the new technology to achieve its electoral ambitions. However, this ingenious method of using Whatsapp by the BJP has not been palatable to the liberals working at TIME who deem it spreading of ‘fake news’ without any evidence to back their claim.

The country, as well as the world, is marred by the scourge of Fake news. So instead of running a biased piece against the political party they despise, the TIME should rather direct their energies in exploring ways to curb the spread of fake news on various Social Media platforms. Whatsapp, on the other hand, is taking stern action against users who indulge in dispensing fake news and rumours.

In fact, IT ministry under the Modi government was the first one to wake Whatsapp from its slumber to curb dissemination of fake news on its portal. It also warned the company that platforms used for propagation of rumours are accountable to be treated as ‘abettors’ and can face legal consequences if they remain “bystanders”. While the article claims that the BJP volunteers fuel the fake news on Whatsapp and give a free pass to the opposition fake news peddlers, but the reality is that the BJP and its leaders are themselves victims of fake news peddled by IT cells of Congress and other opposition parties.

The list of Congress lying is interminably long and so wide-ranging that the TIME can routinely publish an article on their lies till the general elections, without repeating any of them and still be perplexed with the preponderance of the remaining instances of their lying. The Congress backed ecosystem has been equally culpable of circulating the fake news to support its favoured party and paint the BJP and its leaders as corrupt. The contentious online portal, the leftist propaganda website, The Wire, spun a web of lies around the Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, accusing him and his family of having business ties till date with a defaulting company. This lie was comprehensively debunked by OpIndia here.

In another instance, the Wire carried out a hit job on Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah, claiming financial irregularities in Jay Shah’s businesses after 2014. The scandalous allegations levelled by the Wire were promptly dispelled as gross discrepancies were highlighted in their analysis. Nevertheless, the Congress President Rahul Gandhi continued to repeat their lies multiple times over in a desperate bid to lend credence to the Wire’s baseless story. The Wire is already facing Rs 100 crore defamation suit for the same.

Another organisation, in cahoots with the Congress party in spreading fake news, is the NDTV. Nidhi Razdan of NDTV conducted an entire debate show based on unverified news. Such is the fondness for Rahul Gandhi among NDTV scribes that Union Minister Piyush Goyal’s statements regarding Jobs in Railways were twisted to perpetuate Rahul Gandhi’s narrative of ‘Jobless Growth’ to the masses.

There have been myriad instances when Congress president Rahul Gandhi has blatantly lied in public speeches and press conferences and the same being lapped up by the Congress IT cell to circulate them on their Whatsapp groups. Recently, Rahul Gandhi lied about how the Modi government is destroying MGNREGA. He also lied saying PM Modi is making different sections of the society fight while Congress MLA Alpesh Thakore who is responsible for inciting hatred and violence against UPites and Biharis in Gujarat still enjoys patronage from the Congress President. Rahul Gandhi also lied about a secret meeting he did with Chinese authorities, during his visit to Mansarovar, which was earlier denied by the Congress.

Rahul Gandhi is even accused of exploiting the deaths of Sterlite protestors by lying about it and using the deaths of protestors to attack PM Modi and RSS. A Periyar statue was found vandalised by unknown assailants in Tamil Nadu, but Rahul Gandhi lied about it, blaming BJP and RSS responsible for it. To score political brownie points, Rahul Gandhi has lied several times about the Modi government’s loan waiver to top 15 industrialists.

A scam regarding the Rafale deal was contrived by the Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s fertile imagination spread like a wild-fire in the country. From mainstream media to social media platforms, the story of an assumed scam was run like an authentic scam. Even the Supreme Court’s dismissal of any wrongdoing in the Rafale deal couldn’t stop the proliferation of the fake news pertaining to the Rafale deal by the Gandhi scion. Even the Dassault CEO had rubbished Rahul Gandhi’s lies about the Rafale deal.

These lies manufactured and peddled by Congress and its pliant media were generously shared on Whatsapp groups and Social Media pages to confound unsuspecting users and create doubt in their minds. The TIME was then not critical of the ill-effects of such fake news being liberally circulated on the Social Media and the Mainstream media and promptly swept them under the rug.

Fake news is an all-pervasive menace that has diseased the society. A more nuanced discussion on the issue is imperative. The TIME would do well to highlight how mainstream media is being co-opted to spread lies, perhaps, the greatest purveyor of fake news, instad of focusing on BJP, the one political party they despise.

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Jinit Jain
Engineer. Writer. Learner.

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