BJP leader and in-charge of its national information & technology department Amit Malviya recently shared two videos featuring Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, both of which subsequently went viral on social media.

One of the videos is of Rahul Gandhi at an I.N.D.I.A alliance event in Maharashtra, where others present on the stage can be seen garlanding him with one of them holding an idol of the Hindu deity Vitthala. (Video I)

In the other, a seven-second clip from the ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’, Rahul Gandhi can be heard saying, “ये वाला डंडा देना, झंडा उतार दो इससे” (Translation: “Remove the flag and give me the stick”). Following this, some people in the crowd remove the national flag from the stick. (Video II)

Video I:

Malviya (@amitmalviya) shared the viral clip on X on March 14 with the caption, “Rahul Gandhi refuses to accept idol of Bhagwan Vitthal on stage. This is an insult of not just the Warkaris but millions of Hindu devotees, who revere the Lord. From DMK to the Congress, Hindu hate is what binds the I.N.D.I Alliance. Rahul Gandhi suffers from Hindumisia.” The tweet received 370,600 views, 7,700 likes and 4,000 retweets. (Archive)

The official page of BJP Maharashtra (@BJP4Maharashtra) also shared the video claiming that Gandhi insulted the Hindu God by not agreeing to hold the idol. (Archive)

Republic Bharat also amplified Malviya’s claim in a report titled, ‘Rahul Gandhi again insulted Sanatan, refused to take the idol of Lord Vitthal, BJP alleged’.

Fact Check

After running a keyword search on X, we came across the extended version of the viral clip which was posted by @INCMaharashtra on social media. The 0:18 mark of the extended version of the clip depicts Rahul Gandhi accepting the idol.

We noticed that the official YouTube channel of Congress also posted an extended video titled, ‘Farmers Meeting l Nashik I Maharashtra I Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’ on March 14, 2024. At the 17:28 mark of the video, Gandhi can be seen accepting the idol of Lord Vitthala on stage. He accepted the idol during ‘Krushi Utpanna Bazaar Samiti‘ in Nashik, Maharashtra. Other political leaders including, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut and Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) leaders were also present at the farmers’ meet.

Hence, it is clear that Amit Malviya and others shared a clipped video of the event and made the false claim that Rahul Gandhi had refused to accept an idol of the Hindu deity Vitthala.

Video II:

Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) shared this clip on X on March 13 with the caption, “Rahul Gandhi asks India’s flag to be taken down…This is straight out of George Soros’s rule book, where he asks his protégée to insult and demean everything Indian.” Malviya suggested that the opposition leader works at the behest of Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros, where the latter has previously criticised PM Modi and his connection with Gautam Adani. Malviya’s tweet received over 129,700 views, 5,600 likes and 2,700 retweets. He has also disseminated misleading claims and misinformation in the past. (Archive)

A YouTube channel called Indian Compass posted the viral clip, titled ‘This Is The Respect Rahul Gandhi Has For The National Flag‘. The video has received over 57,233 views.

Among others who made the same claim @iAnkurSingh and vice-president of BJP Delhi Visshnu Mittal (@visshnumittal).

Fact Check

We broke down the viral video using Invid software and reverse-searched one of the key frames on Google. This led us to a video titled, ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra resumes from Dondaicha, Maharashtra‘ that was posted by the Congress’ official YouTube channel on March 13, 2024.

At the 9:58 mark, Rahul Gandhi asks a man in the crowd named Santosh Patil to come and sit beside him. Following this, Gandhi tries to dramatically demonstrate how, according to him, the Modi government allegedly distracted the public’s attention from important national issues thereby helping Indian billionaire Gautam Adani to rob common people. He says, “इसका ध्यान पहले इधर-उधर करेगा. कौन करेगा? नरेंद्र मोदी करेगा, उसके बाद पीछे से अडानी आएगा और जेब कटेगा.”

The viral clip was taken from the 11:11 mark of the extended video, where Rahul Gandhi asks for a stick to symbolically demonstrate how the BJP government allegedly misuses central agencies like ED, CBI and the Income Tax Department. Gandhi says, “अच्छा मुझे ये डंडा देना, झंडा उतार दो इससे… ये देदो छोटा वाला (डंडा) देदो..तो मोदी ध्यान इधर उधर करेगा, right? अडानी पीछे से जेब कटेगा और अमित शाह यूं डंडा पकड़ के ED, CBI, Income Tax Department लेके मारेगा. किसको मारेगा? इसको (जनता को) मारेगा.”

We noticed that Rahul Gandhi used similar dramatic demonstrations using a stick in his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra rally in Vyara Gujarat on March 13, 2024. At the 16:01 mark of the video titled, ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra I Vyara Gujarat’, Rahul Gandhi tells the crowd to remove the (Congress) flag and give him the stick. He goes on to demonstrate how the Modi government is allegedly misusing central agencies and distracting the public from more poignant socio-economic issues.

Hence, the claim that Rahul Gandhi wanted an Indian flag taken down is entirely false. He needed a stick and asked someone present in the rally to hand him over a stick by removing the Indian flag. The clipped video that Amit Malviya shared does not present the whole context.

Abira Das is an intern at Alt News.

Donate to Alt News!
Independent journalism that speaks truth to power and is free of corporate and political control is possible only when people start contributing towards the same. Please consider donating towards this endeavour to fight fake news and misinformation.

Donate Now