Amidst rising Coronavirus cases in the country, pro-Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) vlogger Dhruv Rathee blamed the BJP for risking the lives of people by continuing with its election campaigning in West Bengal.
In a Facebook post on Monday (April 19), Rathee alleged, “Rahul Gandhi, Left Parties and Mamata Banerjee have all stopped their election campaigns now.” Furthermore, he added, “Only Modi and Shah are shameless enough to continue playing with people’s lives. For them, politics >your life.” His remarks were directed against the BJP for conducting large gatherings ahead of the 6th phase of polls in West Bengal.
While Dhruv Rathee had made the allegations on Facebook, he did not re-upload the post on his Twitter timeline. However, his post about an actor named Nakuul Mehta supposedly ‘exposing the harsh reality’ in India can be found on both social media platforms. Dhruv Rathee has a history of peddling fake news and has often been called out on Twitter. As such, he perhaps planned to evade backlash over his baseless allegations by simply not re-posting it on the microblogging site.
Exposing the fake claims of Dhruv Rathee about Mamata Banerjee
In order to cross-verify his claim that all parties with the exception of BJP have stopped their election campaigns, we first visited the official Facebook page of Mamata Banerjee. The first post on her Facebook timeline was a live stream of an election rally at Hemtabad in Uttar Dinajpur district. A simple search debunked the claim that the Trinamool Congress supremo has stopped conducting election campaigns.
As a matter of fact, Mamata Banerjee was accompanied by thousands of Trinamool Congress workers during her massive roadshow from Dhakuria Bridge to the Kalighat crossing yesterday. While the West Bengal CM remain seated in her wheelchair, her supporters followed her with complete disregard to social distancing guidelines.
We had also exposed how Mamata Banerjee and the ruling Trinamool Congress dispensation has been able to successfully evade public scrutiny by shrewdly avoiding live streaming of political rallies on Twitter. While a ‘concerned’ Mamata Banerjee tweets to Election Commission about rising Coronavirus cases on Twitter, her Facebook timeline is filled with videos of election rallies violating social distancing guidelines.
This strategy also seems to be working as a quick scan of major mainstream media coverage will show how they have not been covering most of her rallies while they have been going hammer and tongs against the BJP rallies.
Congress continues with election campaigning despite virtue signalling by Rahul Gandhi
Dhruv Rathee had also explicitly mentioned the name of Congress scion Rahul Gandhi in a bid to target the BJP and give a clean chit to the Congress. It must be mentioned that on Sunday, Gandhi attributed election rallies to the rising Coronavirus cases in the country. This is despite the fact that he had addressed a large gathering in Goalpokhar in West Bengal ahead of the 5th phase of Vidhan Sabha polls just a few days back.
After realising that election rallies won’t be of much help to the party’s prospects, Rahul Gandhi decided to call them off. But despite the Congress leader’s diktat, party MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury continued to attend crowded rallies. On Sunday, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had shared pictures from his rally at the Naoda Vidhan Sabha Constituency in support of the alliance-backed candidate. He also shared pictures from a rally in Malda in support of another candidate.
This runs counter to the claim of Dhruv Rathee that Congress has stopped conducting election campaigns. At the same time, Gandhi’s announcement of ‘cancelling’ his rallies in West Bengal appears to be a tactic only to earn plaudits on social media. The reality on the ground is quite different.
Debunking claims of the pro-AAP vlogger about Left parties not conducting ‘election campaigns’
On April 16, CPI(M) leader and former Rajya Sabha member Md Salim posted a tweet declaring that since the Coronavirus is raging across the country, the CPI(M) had decided not to hold any big political event. In his tweet, he even urged the Prime Minister of India and West Bengal chief minister to act ‘responsibly’ and put the country before the party.
However, hours after taking the moral high ground and pompously announcing that his party would not be organising any big political event, Md Salim took part in a huge political roadshow organised by CPI(M) at Hemtabad in Bengal for canvassing support for Sanjukta Morcha supported CPI(M) candidate Bhupen Barman. In a tweet dated April 17, the party presided over a big political roadshow where participants were seen flouting basic social distancing protocols and not wearing masks.
In another instance, on April 18, two days after Md Salim claimed that CPI(M) had called off big political events in the light of the coronavirus outbreak, a public meeting was organised by the party in support of Fuad Halim, CPI(M) candidate from the Ballygunj constituency.
It’s clear that the claims made by pro-AAP vlogger Dhruv Rathee are false and motivated. Although he tried to make a case against the BJP through his shrewd Twitter strategy and the art of cherry-picking, it only exposed his bias.