A photograph of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)’s presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu is widely circulating on social media. In the photo, we can see Murmu praying to a photo of a Hindu deity while standing next to Mohan Bhagwat, the Chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Various users including Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan have shared this photo claiming that this was clicked at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur. It is further insinuated that Murmu is “hand in gloves” with the Sangh and will be merely a puppet if elected.

Prashant Bhushan wrote, “BJP’s presidential candidate Draupadi Murmu visits Mohan Bhagwat at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur! Is there any doubt that she will just be a rubber stamp and not be able to function independently?” [sic]

Similarly, various other social media users shared this photo with similar captions.

Manipulated image

We performed a reverse image search on Google which did not yield any result. After multiple attempts, we cropped the image, flipped and processed it again through Google reverse image search. This led us to a news report by Prabhat Khabar where we found the same image of Mohan Bhagwat but here he’s not accompanied by Droupadi Murmu as seen in the viral image.

To probe further, we performed an additional reverse image search on the photo carried by Prabhat Khabar. This led to a blog by the RSS published on March 11, 2022, according to which the photo was clicked at the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha in Karnavati, Gujarat.

Photos of this event were also shared by the official Twitter handle of RSS which said that the man accompanying Mohan Bhagwat was RSS secretary Dattatreya Hosbale.

We also cropped the viral image, isolating Murmu from the rest of the surroundings, then flipped it and processed the image through Google reverse image search. This led us to a tweet where we can see Droupadi Murmu in the same attire as the viral image.

Making a visual comparison, we noticed that the image of Murmu with Mohan Bhagwat was morphed using this image.

The similarities we observed were:

  • The depression or fabric irregularity on the saree is the same in both the images
  • The reflection of light on her hair is on the same spot in both images
  • In both images, we can see her wearing a white wristband or watch

Additionally, we also found the same image in a tweet by Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren. The two had met in December 2020, on the occasion of the completion of one year of the Soren-led Jharkhand government.

Based on all the pieces of evidence, it is safe to conclude that the photo of NDA presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu with Mohan Bhagwat is manipulated.

About the Author

Kalim is a journalist with a keen interest in tech, misinformation, culture, etc