On February 14, propaganda website The Wire published a story claiming that Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has fact-checked Narendra Modi over an undated video where Modi is seen delivering a speech. The 2:20 minutes video shows a portion of a speech by Modi which seems to be old, where Modi is heard talking about the Ekta Yatra that BJP had taken out in 1992 from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.
From just around 2 minute part of the speech, The Wire concludes that Modi is claiming that he alone went to Kashmir in defiance of terrorist diktats, unfurled the flag himself and came back unharmed. The report then informs that the Ekta Yatra was conducted by the then party president Murli Manohar Joshi, and the Yatra is associated with him only. It claims that Modi was just one of the party workers who accompanied Joshi in the Yatra, but he is taking full claim for the same.
Swati Chaturvedi, the writer of the report, then goes on to make a sensational claim that Murli Manohar Joshi is furious after seeing the video, and he has complained about the same with the RSS. The report claims that Joshi has asked RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat why the prime minister is indulging in fantasy and effectively re-writing BJP’s own history.
There are several problems with the report by Wire.
First, there is absolutely no proof that veteran party leader Murli Manohar Joshi is actually angry over an old speech of Modi and went to the extent of complaining about the same to RSS chief. As the article quotes no source to back that claim, we can’t tell whether it is a fact, or actually Swati Chaturvedi herself is indulging in fantasy. There is no evidence that RSS has fact-checked Narendra Modi over the speech, as the Wire report claims.
Second, the video shows only around 2 minutes of the speech, not the entire speech. Hence to claim that Modi took full credit for the Ekta Yatra based on this short clip is questionable. We have seen numerous examples of using short clips of speeches to spread fake news to claim that the person was saying something while actually, that was not true. Without listening to the full speech and without knowing the context, it is incorrect to pass such judgements.
Third, although it is true that Murli Manohar Joshi led the Ekta Yatra in 1992 – after all he was the party president and one of the top three leaders of the party at that time – Narendra Modi was not just an ordinary party worker hitching a ride on the yatra like Wire wants to suggest.
The Ekta Yatra stared at Kanyakumari on December 11, 1991, and it was scheduled to conclude on 26 January in Srinagar with the hoisting of the tricolour at the Lal Chowk. And this yatra was conceived, planned and organised by Narendra Modi, then an active party worker and a member of the National Election Committee of the party. He was designated as the convenor of the Yatra, not just a party worker participating in the same. Modi had also worked on organising the Rath Yatra of L K Advani two years earlier.
When Murli Manohar Joshi finally unfurled the national flag at Lal Chowk on the Republic day in 1992, Narendra Modi was there just next to him, joining him in hoisting the flag. After the hoisting the flag, the party president had introduced Narendra Modi as an “energetic and promising” party leader in front of the press, recognising his role in organising the Yatra. Therefore, Narendra Modi was playing a leading role in the Yatra, instead of being just a participant.
The Wire report also embedded a video from 2011 where Murli Manohar Joshi is seen talking about the Ekta Yatra. But the video is from January 2011, and Joshi was talking about Rashtriya Ekta Yatra of 2011, a completely different event. This Yatra was led by then BJYM president Anurag Thakur, and unlike 1992, BJP leaders were prevented from hoisting the national flag at the Lal Chowk by the state government during this Yatra. Senior party leaders like Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Anant Kumar and others had tried the enter J&K, but they were stopped and detained at the border by state police. Neither Joshi nor Modi went to Kashmir during the 2011 Yatra, so it is not clear why Wire included that video in the story.