An article went viral on social media recently, written by one Gabriel Pickard Whitehead, a freelance ‘journalist’ based in the United Kingdom. According to Whitehead’s article, the Congress party was poised to secure a victory in the 2019 General Elections and unseat Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
There are several major issues with the article. It contains little analysis and more of campaign slogans of the Congress party. Moreover, the language is not technically accurate as would be expected from an authentic journalist.
According to Whitehead, the article is based on data from an unnamed UK Based Company. It states, “A Congress Party landslide in the general election, the result of which will be announced on May 23, is the finding of a survey compiled by a UK-based research group that polled 20,500 people out of whom 52% were male and 48% female, across 24 states in India, weighted to represent the total voting population.”
Why has the research group not been named? It’s the most basic requirement to establish the authenticity of the survey. So basically, we are asked to trust the survey of an unknown entity that goes against every opinion poll that was published prior to the elections shared by a journalist with extremely little credibility on the face of it. In unrelated news, Cambridge Analytica which was helping Congress in elections too, was a British based company before it shut down operations last year.
The language of the article is extremely jarring. It comes across as a fawning ode to the Congress party. It says at one point, “This toxic climate of discontent and contempt towards the ruling party and its policies, is paving the way for change in India and the electorate seems to be buying into the alternative offered by Gandhi’s National Congress Party.”
At another point, it says, “The Congress party’s policy is focused on helping the poor, farmers and the jobless who are particularly feeling the brunt of India’s economic crisis in the first instance.”
At a particular point, the author says that Rahul Gandhi is using social media effectively to spread the message of the NCP. As we all know, the NCP is Congress’ ally and it is hard to imagine the NCP outsourcing its social media management to Rahul Gandhi. On another, Whitehead treats minorities as castes.
The article furthers very dangerous ideas as well. Whitehead says that Congress’ “pursuit to power won’t be a ‘walk in the park’, due to the level of institutional control the leading party exerts.”
Basically, she says that the Congress may lose the elections because BJP has complete control over the Judiciary, the Election Commission and other institutions in the country. It appears to be a deliberate attempt to undermine the very foundations of Indian democracy by casting aspersions on the various institutions of the state machinery.
To insinuate that a particular political party could subvert the will of the people by twisting the state machinery is equivalent to fomenting mistrust within the minds of the Indian citizens towards the machinery of the state which could have devastating consequences for the political climate of the country.
In what appears to be a matter of concern, the figures cited by Whitehead are uncannily similar to the ones shared by Congress member Sumit Kashyap recently on Twitter. With regards to the Congress party, the numbers were exactly the same.
Here is the latest Election tracker….
Congress is at 150 on its own
BJP+ is at 178
Others at 152
Let us see, how things turn out ultimately… pic.twitter.com/BVwtldHRbM
— Sumit Kashyap (@sumitkashyapjha) April 25, 2019
Therefore, it can be either of the following two scenarios. Either Whitehead and Sumit got their figures from the same source or Whitehead has Sumit for her source. Considering the amount of Congress party talking points that were made in the article, it could very well be that the article was planted by the Congress party itself.
The article was quickly picked up by various people sympathetic to the Congress party and its members without a shred of concern for the dangerous ideas it contained or the author’s utter lack of credibility.
Congress set for landslide election victory
“The collated data found that 213 seats — equating to 39% of the electorate — will go to the Indian National Congress Party, compared to 170 seats (31%) for the BJP and 160 seats (30%) for other regional parties https://t.co/fwNdZZF7O2
— Tufail Ahmad (@tufailelif) April 27, 2019
Media persons too chimed in.
— Sunder Chand (@NBTsunderchand) April 27, 2019
As did official Congress members and functionaries.
— Srinivas B V (@srinivasiyc) April 27, 2019
A well analyzed article that presents things as they are! There’s no doubt that jumla party threatened the secular fabric of the country and has left behind the minorities and poor stranded. The nation is prepared for #NYAY!#ModiMehangaPada https://t.co/4brV8EahxE
— Vijay Inder Singla (@VijayIndrSingla) April 27, 2019
The Congress Party will be the single largest party and will form the government as per this research article. The undercurrent towards @INCIndia is something that oppositions didn’t notice. https://t.co/7WkrIiLkmI
— G. Shekar / ಜಿ. ಶೇಖರ್ (@GShekarINC) April 27, 2019
With angst and mental unrest rising in the country owing to govt’s failures, no doubt the nation wants a leader who can bind all sections together & deliver dues to the unemployed, poor, and farmers. An apt read!#ModiMehangaPadahttps://t.co/y4SXryARlf
— Kiran Choudhry (@officekiran) April 27, 2019
It was shared also by the Indian Youth Congress’ online magazine.
— Yuva Desh (@yuvadesh) April 27, 2019
The fact that it was written by some ‘unknown company’ might mean that Congress thought an ‘English sounding name’ would appeal to Indians and even these asinine predictions of dubious origins would seem authentic. As evident, Congress tried to spread these numbers through their little known trolls like Sumit Kashyap, but realising that the narrative is not getting traction, they may have thought that a ‘foreign sounding name’ might fool the voters.
Moreover, the article is in clear violation of Election Commission recommendations which bars any figures to be posted while the elections are on. Combined with the dangerous ideas that the article contains, it clearly appears to be an attempt to sabotage the foundations of Indian democracy itself. Under such circumstances, it appears to be of paramount importance that the authorities take cognizance of the article and initiate an investigation into it. It could very well be an instance of foreign powers attempting to influence the most important internal affair of the country.