A 14-second clip has been shared along with the claim that an elderly man confronted Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav and said, “You only made masjids, we won’t give votes.” (तुमने केवल मस्जिद बनवाई, हम वोट नहीं देंगे.)

BJP member Priti Gandhi, BJP Himachal in-charge Avinash Rai Khanna, BJP spokesperson Sarika A Jain, BJP UP’s social media co-convenor Saurabh tweeted this video.

Several Facebook and Twitter users posted this video. It was also shared on high-network pro-BJP pages such as टीम किशनाराम बिशनोई [over 20K followers]; भाजपा का परिवार मेरा परिवार{यूपी मिशन 2022-भाजपा समर्थकों का स्वागत है} [1.4 lakh followers] and प्रधानमंत्री – नरेंद्र मोदी जी ✅ [over 1.4 lakh followers].

2019 video shared with a false narrative

Upon hearing the viral video carefully, we noticed that the dialect is difficult to understand. A UP-based reporter told Alt News that the elderly man was claiming that Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) are swapped after votes are cast. In an impassioned address to Akhilesh Yadav, he alleges that people vote for the SP but the votes are not counted since the machines are swapped. The word “machine” is misrepresented as “masjid” in viral claims.

Alt News also spoke with SP national spokesperson Abdul Hafiz Gandhi. He said that the elderly man is not saying, “Tumne keval masjid banvayi, hum vote nahi denge” (You only made mosques, we will give not votes). Gandhi informed, “The old man has said machines, not masjids. He is of the opinion that the SP doesn’t win since EVMs are swapped.”

Using this as a clue, Alt News performed a keyword search (अखिलेश यादव बुजुर्ग evm मशीन) on Facebook and found two instances of a longer version of the video shared on the platform in 2019 [1, 2]. One of them was posted by SP spokesperson Roli Tiwari Mishra. In this video, we can hear quite clearly that the elderly man said “machines” and not “masjids”. He claimed that the BJP won elections because EVMs were swapped after people cast votes for the SP.

The UP-based reporter informed Alt News that the man has used unparliamentary language towards the end of the longer video. In fact, we can also hear Yadav discouraging him from using such language. Alt News has thus, not embedded the longer video but Mishra’s post (screenshot below) has been hyperlinked above.

The video below is a clipped version of Mishra’s post which only includes the viral segment.

In a tweet from 2019, journalist Kiran Patnaik also wrote that the man was blaming EVMs for the SP’s loss. She wrote that a supporter of Akhilesh Yadav said, “Put the machines on fire” and “EVMs are defected. EVMs should be removed”.

BJP leaders and members spun an SP supporter’s interaction with Akhilesh Yadav to portray that the man was opposing the SP. In reality, the man did not accuse the SP of building “masjids” for Muslim appeasement but alleged that the BJP wins elections because EVMs are swapped after people cast votes for the SP.

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