“Are Rahul Gandhi and Owaisi wrong in saying ‘Don’t need to stand for anthem’?” Asked a Republic TV poll. The Supreme Court order on the playing of national anthem in cinemas led to flurry of activity in the “nationalist” channel’s studio. “Absurd anthem controversy breaks out” announced Republic TV as it manufactured and stoked an absurd controversy. Alt News counted 80+ tweets by the channel with the hashtag #AnthemFirstNoCompromise. So what was all the noise about? Did Rahul Gandhi or Owaisi really say that there is no need to stand for the national anthem?

Hearing the application for the recall of court’s order dated Nov 30th, 2016 regarding mandatory playing of national anthem in Cinema halls, the Supreme Court had proceeded to order that the Centre may take a call on the issue one way or the other by issuing an appropriate notification/circular. Justice DY Chandrachud had posed the question to the Attorney General: People go to cinema for undiluted entertainment. Tomorrow if someone says don’t wear shorts and t-shirts to cinema halls because National Anthem is being played, then where do we stop this moral policing? Should we wear our patriotism on our sleeves?” The case has now been listed for January 9, 2018. The interim order, directing cinema halls across the country to play National Anthem before the start of Cinema, remains unmodified.

The context of people’s reaction was the Supreme Court order and whether or not cinemas should play the national anthem. Did anyone even say that one should not stand when the national anthem is played? But that is how it unfolded in Republic TV studios. “We believe that standing up for national anthem should be mandatory. What do you think?”, asked the channel

It then proceeded to declare Rahul Gandhi, Owaisi and liberals don’t want to stand for national anthem. It was yet another opportunity to attack the opposition and liberals with the nationalism stick. Here are some of the questions asked by the channel:

Is not standing up for the national anthem liberal?

Is not standing up for the national anthem secular?

Is not standing up for the national anthem intellectual?

Is not standing up for the national anthem progressive?

Rahul against standing for national anthem?

Congress against AnthemFirstNoCompromise?

Republic TV program played it as “Modi v/s Rahul-Owaisi on anthem”

With Gujarat polls around the corner, the channel used it as an opportunity to show that Congress disrespected the National Anthem.

Who said don’t stand for the National Anthem?

Let us come back to the question. What did Rahul Gandhi and Owaisi say about the national anthem? Did they say don’t stand for it as Republic TV was broadcasting it? Alt News contacted both Asaduddin Owaisi and Rahul Gandhi’s office to check if they ever said what Republic TV claimed.

Asaduddin Owaisi was clear in his conversation with Alt News. He said that he agreed with Justice Chandrachud’s observations questioning the need for wearing our patriotism on our sleeves. He repeated to Alt News what he had gone on record earlier i.e. “National Anthem must be played on Independence Day, Republic Day, opening of the parliament, official functions and other solemn occasions but why in a theater?” He confirmed that at no point had he made a statement ascribed to him by Republic TV that people should not stand when national anthem is played.

Owaisi’s views can also be heard on this CNN-IBN video.

Randeep Surjewala, In-charge Communications for Congress denied that Rahul Gandhi had made any statement about not standing for national anthem. He told Alt News in a statement that, “Mr. Rahul Gandhi famously said, ‘My flag is my religion’. News played by Republic is patently false and another attempt of their yellow journalism to tarnish the Congress Party and its leader by their pre-determined prejudicial agenda. Agencies like Republic TV have made a habit out of being BJP bhakts and peddle lies in garb of news”.

Clearly neither Rahul Gandhi nor Asaduddin Owaisi had made any statement about not standing for the national anthem as claimed by Republic TV. Owaisi’s words agreeing with Justice Chandrachud’s criticism regarding the need to play the anthem in theaters were twisted to imply that he did not want people to stand when the anthem is played. Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand had not even made a statement on this matter. Yet, Republic TV painted it as “Modi v/s Rahul-Owaisi on anthem” in their program, accusing them of being against standing when National Anthem is played. With 80+ tweets, twitter polls, screaming anchors and shouting panelists, this absurd debate seems to be yet another propaganda ploy by Republic TV to run down the opposition. Is anyone getting fooled by such blatant lies anymore?