Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal has made a habit of defending Fake News in the highest court of the country. Yesterday, he defended fake news produced by IndiaSpend and today, he used AltNews to further his agenda against the government on the abrogation of Article 370. He did so while simultaneously spreading Fake News about OpIndia.
Sibal (on State’s defence of internet shutdown and the menace of morphed images): There are fact checking platforms like AltNews that verify such things regularly.@AltNews
— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) November 27, 2019
The Tale of Wormtail
Kapil Sibal’s defense of IndiaSpend and reliance on AltNews while opposing OpIndia is not surprising. In March 2018, OpIndia had raised several questions regarding his dubious financial dealings with a tainted businessman. Following OpIndia’s report, Kapil Sibal, after several twists and turns and many a u-turns, had threatened to sue OpIndia and sent a set of questions which he claimed if weren’t answered, he would take OpIndia to the courts. The questions were answered but he never reverted. Later, the IT Department had launched investigations into the business dealings of Sibal and his wife.
Kapil Sibal’s conduct is not surprising considering the party he represents. He has himself made false statements in the Court in the past. For instance, during a hearing in the INC Media Case, he had claimed that certain parts of the Delhi High Court’s judgment were ‘cut and paste’ of a note handed over by Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta after the pleadings were over in the case. He was slammed for making such unfounded allegations by SG Mehta.
Kapil Sibal also attempted to delay the Supreme Court verdict on the Ram Mandir following which he was disowned by the Sunni Waqf Board he was representing in the matter. Kapil Sibal was also conspicuously present while an ‘expert’ rambled about how EVMs could be hacked at a press conference in London without any basis. Prior to the Lok Sabha elections, Kapil Sibal had also issued a thinly veiled threat to bureaucrats and said that the Congress party is keeping an eye on those officials working for the Prime Minister.
The Congress leader had even got involved in a feud with Barkha Dutt. As a renowned fake news peddler of considerable repute herself, Dutt had threatened to sue Kapil Sibal and his wife for cheating and fraud for allegedly refusing to uphold her contract during the Tiranga TV fiasco. A journalist at Tiranga TV had also alleged that Kapil Sibal had sent bouncers to intimidate the protesting employees.
Thus, given his track record, it’s not surprising that fake news peddlers such as AltNews and IndiaSpend are his bedfellows.
IndiaSpend’s intimate relationship with Congress
There are good reasons for Kapil Sibal’s resolute defense of IndiaSpend. More than any other digital media platform, IndiaSpend aligns with the ideological inclinations of the Congress party the most. In addition to that, Praveen Chakravarty, the head of Congress party’s data analytics department, is a founding trustee at IndiaSpend. The website of IndiaSpend, however, does not mention him as one.
IndiaSpend works to provide a rational justification for Congress’ anti-Hindu policies. Let’s not forget that the Congress party was the one that came up with the Saffron Terror narrative. Consistent with that, IndiaSpend came forward with a database the sole objective of which was to paint Hindus as aggressors during any instance of communal violence and Muslims as victims all the time. Even cases which were not communal in nature were given a communal spin by the database. We, at OpIndia, have extensively documented the erroneous ventures of IndiaSpend.
IndiaSpend has, in the past, misrepresented the facts of a case to boost the number of Muslim victims in its database. It has also refrained from correcting its database even after its own ground report contradicted its preconceived notions. It didn’t stop there and even went on to proclaim Muslims as victims in the Hauz Qazi Temple Desecration case even though it was the Hindus whose Temple was desecrated. Even by its own admission, IndiaSpend was reaching conclusions based on incomplete data. In simple terms, it means that IndiaSpend was selectively using data to further pre-decided agenda. Ultimately, it was forced to shut down its ‘hate-tracker database‘ after its propaganda became indefensible.
Thus, the question arises, why was IndiaSpend running its anti-Hindu campaign? It is known that the Congress party always wanted to implement a Communal Violence Bill that quite blatantly discriminated against Hindus. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to assert that the digital media platform was working towards building a narrative that would provide for such a law using ‘lynchings’ as an excuse. It becomes quite evident from the fact that the Congress party did promise such a law in its manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections.
Furthermore, IndiaSpend furthered the Congress party’s talking points on Kashmir. Thus, it’s natural that Kapil Sibal is working overtime to defend the credibility of IndiaSpend. Because the narrative that it is peddling is crucial for the Congress and consistent with the brand of politics that the party espouses. Given the origins of the platform, it can be safely speculated that it is one of the many propaganda wings of the Congress party.
Congress’s relationship with other Digital Media platforms
The Congress manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and its general conduct even post elections reveals that the people who are chartering the path ahead for the party are unduly influenced by the United States of America. Its manifesto indicated quite clearly that it was formulated by individuals who have spent too much time in USA. Thus, it’s by looking at USA that we can understand the relationship that the Congress party shares with digital media platforms such as AltNews and IndiaSpend and others.
In USA, there’s a clear partisan divide in the media platforms. Its ideological inclinations are quite clear. For instance, CNN and MSNBC and most others serve as the media wing of the Democrat party. They might claim to be neutral but their coverage and the disclosures made by Wikileaks reveals abundantly the extent of collusion between Democrats and the mainstream media.
In India as well, there was immense collusion between the mainstream media and the Congress party. However, with the advent of Narendra Modi at the Center, the Congress lost the grip it once had on the media. It took some time but eventually grasped the power of digital media and realized its potential. Thus, digital media replaced the mainstream media as the stronghold of the Congress party although there were prominent factions even within the mainstream media that served the Congress party’s interests.
AltNews, for instance, has peddled fake news on numerous occasions. It has lied about pre-poll violence in Kolkata when the Vidyasagar Statue was vandalized, it has misled people on Narendra Modi’s poll promises. On one occasion, they even accused the Police of lying. Zubair, co-founder of AltNews, has even spread fake news to incite communal violence. Its other founder Pratik Sinha has doxxed people online who could be seen as sympathetic to the BJP.
One of their co-founders happily furthers genocidal accounts wishing for death upon anyone who doesn’t subscribe to the leftist cult. The co-founder of Altnews spread lies about ease of doing business rankings. He shared a fake image of BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa right before the Karnataka elections. Altnews has debunked eyewitness accounts in the past without any conclusive proof because it suited their narrative. It has also spread lies about OpIndia.com itself and also about BJP’s stand, in retail FDI.
The important thing to note here is the fact that all the lies of AltNews invariably benefits only one political party and harms the other. If the lies were not motivated, then there would have been at least some instances when the BJP benefited from its lies too. But that has never happened. Even the doxxing and everything else always benefits only one party.
Therefore, it isn’t surprising at all that Kapil Sibal uses AltNews and IndiaSpend to further Congress party’s agenda at the Court or that he defends IndiaSpend despite its track record of spreading Fake News.
Why attack OpIndia?
Kapil Sibal accuses OpIndia of partisanship and of spreading Fake News without any basis for his allegations. As a wise man once said, “If you want to know what the Left is actually doing, pay close attention to what it is accusing you of. Because whatever you’re being accused of, it’s exactly what the Left is doing.”
OpIndia has constantly busted the fake news and false narratives that the digital platforms aligned with the Congress party, and even Kapil Sibal have peddled over time. Thus, we can take some pride in saying that we have constantly been thorns on the sides of the Congress party and its minions. Therefore, the accusations of partisanship do not come as any surprise. Because it’s exactly what the Left is doing. And Congress of 2019 is the party of JNU.
OpIndia has worked hard to undermine the unchallenged dominance that the Congress party wished to enjoy over digital media platforms. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that Kapil Sibal is busy maligning OpIndia in the Supreme Court. Recently, the Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta even used a report by OpIndia to debunk the lies spread by IndiaSpend. Thus, when one combines all of this with OpIndia’s history with Kapil Sibal, it’s not really surprising that Sibal is maligning OpIndia at the Court while using AltNews and defending IndiaSpend.