Assembly bypoll for the Jayanagar constituency in Karnataka is set to take place on June 11. Ahead of the election, one of the candidates in the fray, Sowmya Reddy who is a member of Congress party, has been shown sitting at a dinner table with a plate filled with non-vegetarian food in front of her. This photograph is currently circulating on social media and WhatsApp. The insinuation here is that Reddy who is a self-proclaimed vegetarian is essentially a liar and a hypocrite.

The page Jayanagar Welfare Association which has posted this photograph has also targeted Reddy in other posts, body shaming her and stating that “she is growing fatter by the day” while the BJP and AAP candidates have lost weight due to campaigning. All these messages are recent and have been posted in the last 12 hours.

Alt News was approached by the lady in question, Sowmya Reddy who claimed that the image is photoshopped. She said, “I am contesting from Jayanagar and we have by-elections on 11th, June. I am an activist for the past 15 years and I decided to take a plunge into electoral politics so that I can be inside the system to serve more people. I started off my activism through animal and environmental rights and most people know that I’m vegetarian since I was 12 (mostly vegan). I was also one of the people behind the plastic ban. Opposition has stooped to a new low and are indulging in personal attacks with photoshopped pictures to suggest that I don’t practice what I preach. I believe food choice is something personal and even though I am vegetarian myself, I believe people have the right to eat what they want, it is a personal choice and it shouldn’t be forced upon.”

Reddy sent us pictures which she claimed are original. In these pictures, nothing has been served in the plate that has been kept in front of her on the table.

To ascertain her claim, Alt News cropped the image of the non-vegetarian delicacy shown in the image. Using Google’s reverse image search option, we found that it is a generic promotional image of butter chicken which has been used by a number of restaurants for a long time.

Misinformation of this nature often follows a predictable, observable pattern. With the by-election to the Jayanagar constituency barely days away, the fake news machinery has expectedly swung into action. Alt News had chronicled the spike in fake news in the run up to the Karnataka assembly election in May 2018. This instance is yet another attempt to sway public opinion ahead of polling through the use of a photoshopped picture that shows an electoral candidate in poor light.

About the Author

Arjun Sidharth is a writer with Alt News. He has previously worked in the television news industry, where he managed news bulletins and breaking news scenarios, apart from scripting numerous prime time television stories. He has also been actively involved with various freelance projects. Sidharth has studied economics, political science, international relations and journalism. He has a keen interest in books, movies, music, sports, politics, foreign policy, history and economics. His hobbies include reading, watching movies and indoor gaming.