AMU sends notices to students who organised Tiranga Yatra ahead of Republic Day in the University campus

Aligarh Muslim University, Courtesy: english.samajalive.in

The Aligarh Muslim University has issued show-cause notices to several students for organising a Tiranga Yatra in the University Campus on Tuesday. One of the students is Ajay Singh, the grandson of BJP MLA Dalveer Singh. According to the University administration, the students did not take permission before organising the bike rally.

The notice states that the students not only organised the rally without prior permission but also disturbed the ongoing classes. It further reads that the rally has created ‘fear among the bonafide students’ some anti-social elements and outsiders were allegedly invited in the rally.

The students have to submit their response by Wednesday failing which action would be taken against them. Professor Mohsin Khan, the proctor of the University said that the notice was issued to the students as they had organised the rally during teaching hours which caused a disturbance in the campus.

Also Read: Amu revokes the suspension of Kashmiri students accused of sedition, UP police seek inquiry report

On the contrary, the students have questioned the intention of the University administration for denying the permission to organise the Tiranga Yatra. Ajay Singh said that he had applied for the permission on January 19 but the administration did not respond.

“The proctor office has no objections when students protest and raise slogans in the campus against the killing of a terrorist in J&K, or burn papers after implementation of 10% reservation for economically backward. But they have a problem when we take out a Tiranga rally with slogans of Bharat Mata Ki Jai?” Singh was quoted by Times of India.

Reports stated that the yatra was organised to raise awareness about donating for the families of martyred soldiers through the mobile app.

Priyanka Gandhi’s entry into politics seems like a skit where people dress up as politicians for laughs

Priyanka Gandhi's entry into politics as UP East incharge seems like a parody of Indian Politics
Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi (Picture credit: Indian Express)

In his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty Four, George Orwell describes what life will be like under the rule of Big Brother.

always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. …. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.

Orwell based his book on nightmarish visions about the future of the world under Communist dictatorships, which were rising in the 1940s.  The Congress party is not quite that. Rather, if you want a picture of the future under Congress, imagine a human face licking a boot – forever.

There is nothing quite like a Gandhi Dynasty surname to activate the “submission reflex” in circles of Lutyens’ Delhi. For at least 10 years now, journalists, academics and intellectuals have been talking about the supposed charisma, intelligence and political acumen of Priyanka Gandhi. Much of this felt like it was made up from thin air. Thus was born the myth of the “smarter Gandhi”.

It is impossible to know how much of this myth was cultivated by the Dynasty itself. And how much was cultivated by the same ecosystem journalists, academics and intellectuals anxious to obtain “insurance” against the failure of Rahul Gandhi?

But yesterday, the Congress appointed Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as Congress General Secretary of Eastern Uttar Pradesh. For the mythmakers of Indian journalism, the object of their worship was suddenly before them, available for public veneration.

Also Read: As Priyanka Gandhi takes charge of UP East, here is all you need to know about her colourful past. 

And what a show they put on! Showering her with attributes: classy, smart, charismatic, aggressive, Congress’ Brahmastra and so on. Some wanted to know if this changes the game in Uttar Pradesh, paving the way for a Congress sweep. Others decided to go one up and ask if her entry will change the election across the country.

Some wanted to ask who the BJP will deploy to counter the influence of Priyanka Gandhi: will it be Smriti Irani? Or Yogi Adityanath? Or Amit Shah? Or PM Modi himself?

Others wanted to know which ‘card’ she will play: the victim card, the likeness to Indira card, the Brahmin card.

The only things Congress is playing are its Lutyens’ darbaris. Which is why the political launch of Priyanka Gandhi feels like a parody of Indian politics. Something like a comedy skit on a late-night show, where characters dress up as politicians for laughs.

How else do you explain the media falling all over the supposed “likeness to Indira Gandhi”? A likeness to someone famous as a ticket to political success? This does not even help in the film industry. They expect it to work in politics?

Are we supposed to take this seriously? Is this for real?

Read Also: Pliant Media jubilant on the arrival of another non-achiever dynast in politics

As I said, this feels like a parody. Almost like the Dynasty is laughing in our faces, telling us that we as a nation will accept almost anybody as long as she bears their famous surname. Not so easy.

Last night, one prominent TV channel actually listed Priyanka’s “connect with women voters” as one of her many strengths. It is hard to see this as anything other than an insult to the intelligence of Indian women.

At best, this is funny. At worst, this is poking young India in the eye, telling us that we may have superpower aspirations, but they keep expecting us to submit to the same old zamindars.

Congress workers, nevertheless, will have an extra spring in their step. And we will have another reason to laugh at them. Actually, feel sorry for them. Every human life is unique, full of possibilities for achievement and advancement. How sad that actual people would find their lives at a point where the only light in their eyes is loyalty to a dynasty … and the heirs and successors of that dynasty their only hope.

You could try to say the same about Lutyens’ editors, academics and intellectuals, but at least those folks are doing well … or at least expecting to do well for their labours. You have to feel sorry for the Congress worker.

While this skit from the Congress Party may make waves in media circles, Indian politics will continue as usual. The best this can do for Congress is give Rahul ji a face-saving excuse to leave Amethi (which looks increasingly unwinnable for him) and scour the country for a safe seat somewhere else.

Pro-Congress troll Abhishek Mishra arrested for offensive posts which hurt religious sentiments

Pro-Congress troll Abhishek Mishra

Pro-Congress troll Abhishek Mishra who runs a fake news website and a network of Facebook pages spreading misinformation was arrested by Delhi Police for offensive posts which hurt religious sentiments.

As per reports, he was arrested on Tuesday night by special cyber cell of the Delhi Police from his home in Madhya Pradesh.

Abhishek Mishra is a self-styled YouTuber who was earlier an Aam Aadmi Party supporter and got his pictures clicked with Arvind Kejriwal before shifting his loyalties towards Congress and getting his pictures clicked with various Congress leaders like Digvijaya Singh, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Chaturvedi. He has earlier been called out for spreading fake news and images.

Mishra also runs a website ‘viralinIndia.net’ where he spreads pro-Islamist propaganda and fake news. The website not only posts anti-Modi and pro-Islam propaganda but also absolute rubbish, like a post on how one hen gave birth to puppies in Bihar. Over and above that, there are many sexually explicit articles with clickbait-y headlines perhaps to get traffic to the website.

Mishra’s propaganda is not just confined to the website. He runs various Facebook pages where he regularly shares unverified and fake quotes, attributing them to politicians and the same get a lot of traction because they are anti-Modi.

During the run-up to the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections, Mishra had ‘temporarily shut down‘ viralinIndia.net as the team was busy ‘covering elections’. As soon as the elections were over, Mishra was back to running fake news website again, making outlandish claims such as PM Modi being the prime suspect for a stolen watch from Priyanka Chopra-Nick Jonas’ wedding reception.

This is not the first time Mishra has got into trouble with the law. In November 2016, Mishra was arrested by Madhya Pradesh Police for attacking Shivraj Singh Chouhan and the BJP on demonetisation.

Maharashtra ATS arrests 9 persons suspected to have links with the ISIS

Representational Image, Courtesy: india.com

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has arrested nine people suspected of having links with the ISIS. The arrested persons had reportedly formed an organisation called ‘Ummat-E-Muhammadiya’.

One of the arrested people is said to be the son of Rashid Malbari, a close aide of Dawood Ibrahim. All the arrested are well-qualified persons with two engineers, one pursuing engineering, one Pharmacist and a class 11th student among them.

The ATS has seized several labelled bottles filled with chemicals along with 6 pen drives, over 24 cell phones, over 6 laptops, 6 wifi pods, over 24 DVDs and CDs, over 12 hard drives and 6 memory cards from the arrested persons.

According to police, the arrested persons have said that they were planning mass killings. They had prepared few chemical mixtures, they were planning to mix the same with water and food at big public gatherings. The police are investigating whether the ongoing Kumbh Mela was in their target list.

The arrested have been identified as Salman Khan, Fahad Shah, Zamen Kutepadi, Mohseen Khan, Mohammad Mazhar Shaikh, Taki Khan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Zahid Shaikh and a 17-year-old. Three of the arrested men namely Salman Khan, Mohaseen Mazhar Sheikh and Taki Khan are brothers who were reportedly assigned the task of recruiting and radicalising young men. According to the ATS, Mohammad Mazhar Shaikh, a computer engineer in private firm in Bhiwandi, and Fahad Shah, a civil engineer, met Salman during Ramadan in a mosque at Mumbra last year. Another arrested person Zamen Kuttepadi, a medical representative, was recruited by Mohseen as he had good knowledge of chemicals which could be used for chemical attack and logistic support. Salman was assisted by Sarfaraz in recruitment as he used to identify youths in mosques and radicalise them.

These persons were arrested during the searches conducted by the ATS in Amrut Nagar, Kausa, Moti Baug and Almas Colony in Mumbra and Kaisar Colony, Rahat Colony and Damdi Mahal areas in Aurangabad. A case has been registered under IPC Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy), the Bombay Police Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), as told by a police officer.

“I feel very responsible”, Karan Johar on the Pandya-Rahul controversy

Karan Johar with Hardik Pandya & KL Rahul on the sets of Koffee with Karan

Film Director and show host Karan Johar has apologised for the controversy relating to the comments made by cricketer Hardik Pandya and K L Rahul on his TV show “Koffee with Karan”. Speaking up for the first time after the controversy erupted, Johar said that he feels responsible as it was his show. BCCI had sent notices to both the players and excluded from the Indian cricket team after Pandya made certain remarks on the show which were insulting to women.

“I haven’t spoken about it really… I feel very responsible because it was my show and my platform. I invited them as guests and so the ramifications and repercussions of the show are my responsibility”, he said. The filmmaker said that things have now gone beyond his control and that he really wished he could undo that. “I have had so many sleepless nights, just wondering about how I can undo this damage. Who is going to listen to me? It has now gone into a zone that is beyond my control,” Johar said.

He clarified that he asks the same questions to every guest who appears on the show and that he does not have control over the answers that come his way. “I have to say and I don’t defend myself when I say this. I have to say that the questions that I asked the two boys are the questions I ask everyone including women. Deepika (Padukone) and Alia (Bhatt) were on the show, I asked them those questions. I have no control over the answers that come my way”, he explained.

Johar said that no objection was raised regarding the comments by Pandya from his team that comprises of 16-17 girls. He said, “Koffee with Karan is a show run entirely by women. I am the only man there. None of them came up. Some thought they were wild, they were crazy, he’s cracked, he’s mad. No one said that this was inappropriate.”

“I regret what happened to them”, he added.

Johar dismissed the allegations that what happened on the show was done for the TRPs. He said that he did not care about the TRPs. “My show is frivolous, a completely sometimes border line ridiculous, irreverent, candid. ‘Stop making sense’ is our mantra”, Johar said explaining that he was not justifying the comments made by the cricketers but this is how the nature of the show is.

OpIndia Evening Dispatch: Wednesday, 23rd January, 2019

OpIndia Evening Dispatch: Here is everything that happened in the day
OpIndia Evening Dispatch: Here is everything that happened in the day

In the hustle and bustle of the day, it is only natural to miss some of the biggest developments that impact the nation. The OpIndia Evening Dispatch will catch you up on the day’s event even if you have been busy thus far.

1. Priyanka Gandhi enters Politics

In a significant development, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the daughter of Sonia Gandhi, has been appointed as the AICC General Secretary for Uttar Pradesh East. Congress seems to be scampering to get its caste equations right, especially in Uttar Pradesh which is the largest state in terms of Lok Sabha seats. It appears to be a shrewd move by the party to get its caste equations correct in the state and cut into the Upper Caste vote bank of the BJP.

The myriad of allegations against the husband-wife duo of Priyanka-Robert Vadra certainly delayed her official entry into politics. There have been some quarters within the Congress party which appear to prefer Priyanka Gandhi Vadra over Rahul Gandhi. We have elaborated on all of them here.

2. Rifts between RJD and Congress?

The cracks have started to appear in the proposed grand alliance of Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in Bihar, as RJD leaders have expressed their resentment over the reports of induction of some ‘tainted leaders’ into Congress, reported Hindustan Times.

Reportedly, many leaders in RJD are not pleased about the induction of Pappu Yadav, Lovely Anand and Anant Singh into Congress. RJD has reportedly expressed its reservations about Anant Singh being a part of the grand alliance as both sons of Lalu Yadav, Tejashwi and Tej Pratap were apprehensive about it.

3. Trouble in Madhya Pradesh for Congress?

BSP MLA Ramabai Ahirwar has stated that the Congress-led government in Madhya Pradesh will face a Karnataka-like situation if she is not given a ministerial post. According to reports, the Pathariya MLA has stated that she was promised a ministerial position when Congress and BSP agreed for a post-poll alliance to form the government in Madhya Pradesh.

It is notable here that BSP has 2 MLAs in the 230 seat Madhya Pradesh assembly. BSP Supremo Mayawati has already declared that she has only supported Congress to keep BJP out of power and BSP will not enter into an alliance with Congress in MP for the 2019 general elections.

4. 31 Rohingyas stranded at India-Bangladesh border handed over to Tripura Police

As we had mentioned in our earlier report, 31 Rohingyas were stranded at the India-Bangladesh border in Tripura after both sides refused to accept them. Bangladesh claimed that the Rohingyas crossed over from India while the BSF maintained that there’s no breach on the Indian side.

Now, as per latest reports, the Rohingyas have been handed over to Tripura Police. The Rohingyas had been stuck at the Border since the 18th of January. They were handed over to Tripura Police after the BSF failed to reach a decision during talks with their Bangladeshi counterparts, Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB).

The 31 Rohingyas were produced before a court in West Tripura district after a medical check-up. The court sent them to 14-day judicial custody.

5. PM Modi inaugurates Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose museum at Red Fort

PM Modi today inaugurated a museum at Red Fort, to commemorate the 122nd birth anniversary of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose. He was accompanied by Netaji’s grand-nephew and BJP Bengal vice-president Chandra Kumar Bose, Minister of Culture Mahesh Sharma and also members of the Archaeological Survey of India. The declaration to construct this museum had come in October last year from PM Modi himself.

The museum showcases the artefacts like medal, badges, uniforms and chequebooks of the Indian National Army so that visitors can have a look at the working of the INA and also the efforts put by them to defeat the imperialist forces of Britain. The museum is made on the first floor of the Red Fort barracks, the place where infamous trials against the soldiers of the INA were carried out by the British.

6. Leading job website, ‘Naukri’, releases survey of recruiters, predicts 20% increase in hiring between January and June 2019

Naukri.com, one of India’s premier job portals, has published the findings of its Hiring Outlook survey which depicts a very bright scenario for employment opportunities in the country between January to June 2019.

The report states, “The survey represents a very optimistic outlook for hiring in the coming six months. The survey saw participation from 3310 recruiters across the country. 84% recruiters surveyed are anticipating an increased hiring activity which observes a 20% increase in comparison to last year.”

7. Kinnar Akhara performs puja at Kumbh praying for early construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya

The Kinnar Akhara has officially extended its support for the construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya. A Tantrik puja was performed by the Kinnar Akhara in the ongoing Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj for the construction of Ram Mandir. The puja was performed by the Tnatriks from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

8. Sitaram Yechury unveils statue of Lenin, known for mass murder during his Red Terror

CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury unveiled a statue of revolutionary communist leader Vladimir Lenin at the party office in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. This is one of the great ironies about communists in India that while they accuse others of mass murderers, they themselves idolise communist leaders known from mass murders.

Communist regimes across the world have seen mass killings of dissidents, and the rule of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, popularly known as Vladimir Lenin, was no different. Lenin was extremely intolerant of political opponents, he used brutal methods to crush the anti-communist movement in Russia. He called for the public hanging of those opposed to forceful snatching and distribution of food grain. Basically, Lenin did everything that communists in India accuse Narendra Modi and other BJP leadership of doing, and Lenin is their idol.

9. Opinions

In his latest article, K. Bhattacharjee elaborates on how Propaganda works and the manner in which a propaganda war is underway to demonize every Hindu festival so that Hindus do not offer too much of a resistance when orders are passed to restrict them. He writes, “We may dismiss the Business Standard articles as garbage. In reality, it’s a propaganda war against the very existence of our civilization. Liberals hate Hinduism, they would much have it relegated to history books. If people are not made aware of the insidious propaganda against Kumbh Mela and Kanwar Yatra, they might actually accept completely swallow the toxic narrative that is peddled by the mainstream media.”

Sanghamitra, in her latest article, speculates on how the leftists may react to the news of the arrests made by Maharashtra ATS in connection with another ISIS group. Recently, when the NIA had busted an ISIS module in Amroha, several individuals including a Maulvi and college students were arrested while the probe team had confiscated items such as bomb-making material or IEDs, country-made pistols and 150 rounds of ammunition, the left-liberal cabal had jumped to dismiss the findings and had launched a tirade of attacks on the NIA.

Pliant Media jubilant on the arrival of a non-achiever dynast in the politics

Social Media is abuzz with Priyanka Gandhi’s plunge into Politics after the Congress party declared Priyanka Vadra’s appointment as the General Secretary for East UP. The appointment comes days after the SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati declared their stand of fighting the general elections together, leaving Congress out of the alliance.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s formal entry in the politics has evoked euphoria among some of the media personalities. Journalists believe that Priyanka Vadra’s involvement in the upcoming General elections will be pivotal, especially in the state of Uttar Pradesh which is considered as the most significant state for claiming a stake at the government at the centre.

As the news of the appointment of Priyanka Vadra trickled in, some media folks couldn’t conceal their enthusiasm on her elevation and took to Twitter to express their exultation on Vadra’s entry in the politics. Here are reactions from some of the ‘journalists’ on Priyanka’s anointment as General Secretary of East UP who often masquerade as “neutral” media persons.

It is noteworthy to mention here that Priyanka Vadra has been a greenhorn in the political arena. She has no experience in politics save a few rallies she occasionally does during the election season. Hence, her elevation to the General Secretary of UP East only reinforces Congress party’s policy of perpetuating dynasty politics instead of adopting meritocracy in appointing someone deserving of the position. On the other hand, the media’s uncritical adulation for her not only betrays their servility to the Gandhi family, but it also exposes their duplicity in upholding excellence.

The media questioned Gajendra Chauhan’s appointment as the dean of FTII, claiming his credentials are not worthy enough for him to be appointed as a head of the hallowed institution. The same set of people raised strong reservations on the anointment of Yogi Adityanath as the UP chief minister who was a 5 time MP before being appointed as CM. However, they have veritably no qualms in supporting and glorifying Priyanka who is basically a ‘non-achiever’ and has entered politics only because of her family name

It is also striking to mention Priyanka Vadra’s colourful history. There have been serious allegations levelled against her and her husband Robert Vadra. In April 2017, it was alleged that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had bought 5 acres of agricultural land in Amipur village in Faridabad district of Haryana for Rs 15 lakh in 2006 and later sold the same piece of land to the original owner in 2010 at a price of Rs. 80 lakh. In 2010, she was accused of building a house on land she had allegedly acquired illegally in Shimla. It is therefore ironic to observe the hypocrisy exhibited by the media folks who are now rejoicing Priyanka Vadra’s appointment and not highlighting the allegations raised against her.

Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, keeps talking about Anil Ambani’s inexperience in building defence equipment as a reason to protest against his company’s involvement in the Rafale offset contract but approves of a Gandhi family member being appointed to a senior party position without him/her having necessary credentials to warrant the appointment. This glaring irony is archetypal Congress which believes in eternalising dynasty politics and shunning distinction.

Sitaram Yechury unveils statue of Lenin, known for mass murder during his Red Terror

Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin in May 1919 (Picture credit: www.rferl.org

CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury unveiled a statue of revolutionary communist leader Vladimir Lenin at the party office in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. This is one of the great ironies about communists in India that while they accuse others of mass murderers, they themselves idolise communist leaders known from mass murders.

Communist regimes across the world have seen mass killings of dissidents, and the rule of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, popularly known as Vladimir Lenin, was no different. During the Communist Revolution, Lenin used slogans like “armed insurrection”, “mass terror”, and “the expropriation of gentry land”. During Lenin’s short rule in Russia, the country became a one-party communist state, governed by his Russian Communist Party, thereby eliminating any form of political opposition.

Lenin was responsible for the death of thousands of people during his regime. In 1918, many cities in Russia faced famine due to a chronic shortage of food grain. Lenin blamed this on kulaks or wealthier peasants. He accused that the richer peasants were hoarding the excess grain they had produced to increase its price. Therefore, he had issued an order enabling armed forces to forcefully confiscate food grain from producers and distribute in shortage hit cities. This had led to widespread violence, as the peasant groups clashed with armed forces. Lenin had sent a Telegram, which called for publicly hanging at least 100 kulaks, rich men, and bloodsuckers.

In September 1918, the Russian government officially inaugurated the Decree Red Terror, a period of political repression and mass killings of anti-communists. It is estimated that at least 1,00,000 people were killed during the Red Terror, while other estimates vary from 50,000 to 1,40,000. The Red Terror also had led to the Russian Civil War, which had resulted in an estimated 7,000,000–12,000,000 casualties, mostly civilians. The civil war was led by Red Army of the communists and White Army, a loose confederation of anti-communist forces. Lenin regularly participated in the violence by sending telegrams and messages.

Other than mass killings, the Lenin regime had also set up concentration camps and kept thousands of prisoners in those camps. Intellectuals considered to be anti-government were exiled to inhospitable regions or deported from Russia altogether. In 1922, Lenin had issued a decree for execution of anti-communist priests, resulting in the death of 14,000 to 20,000 people.

Lenin was extremely intolerant of political opponents, he used brutal methods to crush the anti-communist movement in Russia. He called for the public hanging of those opposed to forceful snatching and distribution of food grain. Basically, Lenin did everything that communists in India accuse Narendra Modi and other BJP leadership of doing, and Lenin is their idol.

Kinnar Akhara performs puja at Kumbh praying for early construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya

Kinnar Akhara Mahamandaleshwar Lakshminarayan Tripathi, credit: Twitter

The Kumbh Mela this year has witnessed some unprecedented and historical developments. The Kinnar Akhara after a long struggle to be recognised as the 14th Akhara at the Kumbh Mela finally joined the Juna Akhara. A joint puja was performed on the bank of river Yamuna by the Kinnar Akhara and the Juna Akhara to officially join the former with the latter.

The act is being seen as a major step towards bringing this long marginalised community into the mainstream. On January 6 the Kinnar Akhara had taken part in the religious royal entry procession called the peshwaia procession which is traditionally taken out by the 13 Akharas to mark their arrival at the Kumbh. Thereafter the Kinnar Akhara also took part in the shahi snan. 

And now the Kinnar Akhara has officially extended its support for the construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya. A Tantrik puja was performed by the Kinnar Akhara in the ongoing Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj for the construction of Ram Mandir. The puja was performed by the Tnatriks from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Earlier the Acharya Mahamadaleshwar of the Kinnar Akhara Lakshminarayan Tripathi had also spoken in favour of Ram Temple. Tripathi had to face condemnation from her own community for supporting  Ram Mandir. A statement was issued in November 2018 against Tripathi endorsed by several LGBTQIA groups in India alleging that Tripathi, “a dominant-caste Brahmin trans woman”, was trying to secure a place within the current ruling party. The statement read as, “Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a dominant-caste brahmin trans woman, has been appealing to Hindutva ideology and justifying the existence of the caste system in India ever since she began aspiring for a political position within the current ruling party. Her position negates the politics of communal harmony that is espoused by Hijras and Kinnars, who have historically maintained a syncretic faith of belonging to both Hinduism and Islam. Laxmi Narayan Tripathi’s position idealises a mythical past of the Sanatan Dharam and supports the right-wing politics of communal hatred in the guise of ‘we were always accepted’.”

The Kinnar Akhara has set up a huge camp in Sector 12 at the Prayagraj, the venue of  Kumbh. The Akhara is attracting thousands of devotees daily from across the country. Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a transgender and former reality TV star, has also become popular at the Kumbh.

Institutionalising fake news: The Congress Doctrine for 2019

Congress president Rahul Gandhi

Several commentators have rightly predicted that the frequency of fake-news will increase as and when the election season comes near. The BJP has been a victim of such fake news ever since we assumed office as many commentators claimed that we made certain promises while those promises were never made by either the BJP or Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji.

While earlier the fake news was limited to select occasions, proximity to elections indicate that perhaps there’s an attempt at using fake news as a tool to mislead the people in order to improve the performance of the Congress. This prompted me to evaluate the entire mechanism through which fake news is being spread by certain opposition parties.

The first instance that comes to my mind is when Rahul Gandhi stated on the floor of the house that Prime Minister Modi promised to create 2 crore jobs every year. There is evidence that categorically states that the Prime Minister never made such a promise during the 2014 campaign, however, that didn’t stop Rahul Gandhi from making such an irresponsible statement.

What’s worse is that after he made that statement, certain digital news blogs that tend to be left-leaning and pro congress started to write lengthy op-eds and commentaries on how Prime Minister Modi had promised to create 2 crore jobs per annum. None of them thought about the need to verify this piece of information and they published multiple articles on the subject.

This was followed by articles in mainstream media that quoted these reports on their digital editions as a source of their information. For weeks, this continued until people realized the need to debunk this myth by doing a comprehensive fact check. Clearly, whenever a news platform publishes something, it tends to get picked up by others and this makes it impossible to prevent the spread of fake-news without having a proper process of verification of information.

But there have been instances of selective reading of data by news platforms online and deliberate attempts to push a narrative using fake news to target our Prime Minister’s image. Recently, The Hindu carried a story that stated that over 1000 trees were cut to make a helipad for PM’s rally. In reality, no tree was cut, and this turned out to be yet another case of fake news. But what’s worrisome is the fact that it came in The Hindu which is widely read across India. Immediately, other platforms also picked up this story and raked it up without doing their due diligence and later it was found that this was yet another instance of fake news.

The disturbing trend is the rise of such fake news on digital media platforms: some of which are often used by Rahul Gandhi and senior leaders of the Congress to target the BJP. For example, OpIndia had preemptively busted an impending hitjob by The Wire against Arun Jaitley. After the OpIndia expose, The Wire had responded saying that the story had been dropped because there was no impropriety by Arun Jaitley or his family. Incidentally, Rahul Gandhi plugged the very article which admitted that there was no wrongdoing on the part of Arun Jaitley to insinuate this non-existing wrongdoing. This begs an important question. If Rahul Gandhi had read The Wire article before plugging it on Twitter, he would have known that the article admits that their story was dropped because they did not find any impropriety on the part of Arun Jaitley. Since he used this article to attack the Finance Minister, should one assume that he had prior knowledge of this hit job which eventually, never did take off? And if he did, can we assume collusion on the part of Congress and such digital media platforms that masquerade as neutral news agencies?

In fact, there have been cases where news has been designed to further the cause of spreading a narrative on WhatsApp using dodgy websites. Some of the new digital media platforms have then relied on these dodgy websites while mainstream media has relied upon these new digital media platforms as a source for their story. All of this indicates an ugly side of how the media operates: without any mechanism for curtailing fake news and without any mechanism of checking facts.

Surprisingly, this entire process is tilted to favour the Congress as Rahul Gandhi conveniently uses the reports published in these digital media platforms in his tweets. In fact, recently Rahul Gandhi used a report on the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao program while the report was in itself a terrible attempt at understanding what the scheme was all about. By pushing such reports, Rahul Gandhi is mainstreaming the fringe while he’s also not just legitimizing fake news and fraud analysis but also institutionalizing the same. It’s similar to what he tried in the Rafale deal where he ensured that he kept beating around the bush while reporters continued to refer to his speeches and provided them as citations in their articles. The points in such articles were then used by Rahul Gandhi’s team for his speeches. Thus, he created an entire web of information that was not based on any facts and got away with it.

While the pliant media may like to continue in such an institutionalized manner as it hopes to improve the public image of Rahul Gandhi, the rise of fake-news is actually an existential threat to the media industry as a whole. By pushing such stories, the media is denting its own reputation and credibility and once whatever’s left of their reputation is lost, perhaps people may move towards newer forms of sourcing information. We’re at a turning point for the news industry and I deliberately chose to publish this article in OpIndia- for it has a very solid record in terms of not retracting an article. In fact, in a couple of instances where they erred inadvertently, they were prompt in issuing an apology and rectifying themselves. They do it, using a good fact verification process; I’m hoping other digital media platforms learn from them and implement them too.

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