On 17th April 2019, Rahul Gandhi shared a video by the leftist propaganda The Wire which propagated that the sanitation workers whose feet were washed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Kumbh Mela, were disgruntled with him. Rahul Gandhi, the Congress president tweeted an excerpt of the video saying that the event of PM Modi washing the sanitation workers’ feet was a ‘made for media’ event and that other than photo-ops, PM Modi had no interest or time for the “mann ki baat” of those whose feet he washed.
Excerpts from a documentary by the Wire, that tells the story of the men & women PM Modi used in his made for media, “washing feet” event.
Unfortunately, other than the photo op, he had no interest or time for the “mann ki baat” of those whose feet he washed. pic.twitter.com/yQzhLCHERc
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 17, 2019
The Wire video quotes several people, albeit, in a staccato. Not one interview conducted by The Wire is screened in full. Separate words and short sentences appear to have been taken out of context and stitched together. Interestingly, the questions being asked by The Wire correspondent cannot be heard in the video at all. Only their responses, and that too, chopped and diced features in The Wire video.
OpIndia reached out to two of the people who feature in The Wire video.
The first person that OpIndia reached out to was one of the people whose feet was washed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In bits, an pieces, the gentleman circled in the photograph appears in the video shared by The Wire and later chopped and uploaded by Rahul Gandhi. He says that the Prime Minister called them in at 4 PM and met them. He suddenly came and washed their feet. He says that when he saw the nice plates, he got scared. He thought that it was he who would have to wash PM Modi’s feet. Then he says that he thought ‘chalo dho dange’. That he is such a big minister, he wouldn’t mind washing his feet.
It is pertinent to note here that the second part of his statement when he says he thought he would have to wash PM Modi’s feet is not included in the chopped video uploaded by Rahul Gandhi.
Later in the video, he says that he has been living in the area for 40 years and has been running around for government schemes. Interestingly, his statements even in this segment are mercilessly edited and hence, the exact context of what he is saying is often lost.
OpIndia volunteers reached out to the gentlemen who featured in The Wire and Rahul Gandhi’s video that was used to target PM Modi.
Pyarelal admitted that it was indeed him whose feet were washed by PM Modi and he said he felt blessed. He also said that he is confident that PM Modi would return to power not just this term but even for a third term.
He told OpIndia volunteers that he supports the Prime Minister wholeheartedly and wants him to return to power. When asked whether he has benefitted from the schemes introduced by Prime Minister Modi, he answered in the affirmative. He said he got a ration card and a toilet too after Modi’s Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan. When asked if he has any complaints from PM Modi and CM Yogi Adityanath he said he has no complaints and wish to see them return to power.
When prodded further, Pyarelal says that the video of his that has been edited and used to target the Prime Minister is incorrect and highly exaggerated.
Essentially, the statements of Pyarelal to OpIndia volunteers was in complete contrast to what Rahul Gandhi and The Wire wanted to portray with the heavily edited video that was released.
OpIndia volunteers then reached out to another person whose feet were washed by Prime Minister Modi and who also featured in The Wire and the edited video shared by Rahul Gandhi on Twitter.
The second person too featured prominently in The Wire video and the excerpt used by Rahul Gandhi. In his first soundbyte, the person says that they were called to the room and the Prime Minister started washing their feet. He says that “first we felt ashamed since such a big person was washing our feet…” and it is here that his statement is cut short in the videos.
He then says that he has given us so much honour, but it would be nice if they get permanent jobs in the government too. This statement has no context and what question was asked to the person has also not been included. The question, for all we know, could have been whether the PM washing their feet is sufficient for them, to which, the answer would obviously be no.
OpIndia volunteers reached out to this gentlemen to understand if his statements were accurate and he meant it in the same manner as is being projected by The Wire and Rahul Gandhi.
Naresh Kumar told OpIndia volunteers largely what Pyarelal had said too. After saying that he did attend the Kumbh Mela and even worked there he said that the Prime Minister did meet him at the Kumbh. He said when they got there, they had no idea why they were there or what the agenda of the meeting was.
Naresh Kumar says that when Prime Minister Modi started washing his feet, he even asked him not to wash his feet as how can the PM of the country wash the feet of a safai karamchaari. He says that initially, he thought it was him who would have to wash the PM’s feet but the PM said that he should be allowed to fulfil his ‘farz’ by washing their feet. Naresh said that after washing and wiping his feet, the PM spoke to him about where he is from, his work and his health.
Naresh confidently told us that he is happy with the government at the central and state level and that if there is a problem, the gram pradhan listens to them and solves their problem.
In fact, when asked, Naresh also said that the Media had spoken to him and twisted his words. He said the Media is making things up on their own and spreading rumours and that they say what they have to.
It is evident from the footage acquired by OpIndia that Rahul Gandhi has used footage that has been maliciously presented to paint an inaccurate picture. From the two testimonies, it is clear that the two people who were interviewed by The Wire were taken out of context and their words were maliciously twisted. Perhaps the truth of the rest of the footage can only be ascertained if The Wire releases raw footage that was then edited and turned into their video.