A purported billboard of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) went viral on social media. The billboard reads in Gujarati, “નમાજ પઢશે ગુજરાત” which means, “Now Gujarat will offer namaz”. It also says, “ભાગવત સપ્તાહ અને સત્યનારાયણની કથા જેવી ફાલતુ પ્રવૃત્તિ છોડો” that translates to, “Stop performing Bhagwat Saptah and Satyanarayan Katha”. It is noteworthy that AAP is set to contest all seats in the Gujarat assembly elections next year. Editor-in-chief of Sirf News Surajit Dasgupta shared the image on Twitter but later took it down. (Archived link)
The image is massively widespread on Facebook.
Alt News used relevant Gujarati keywords on Facebook and found several similar billboards. The official Twitter account of Aam Aadmi Party Dang district tweeted several images of the poster on July 10. The official Twitter account of the Aam Aadmi Party Bharuch district also shared some pictures of the poster.
— AAP DANG DISTRICT | #Mission2022 (@AAP_Dang) July 10, 2021
Three people have been featured on the original billboard. Their names are mentioned under their photos (left to right) – Isudan Gadhvi, Gopal Italia, and Arvind Kejriwal. The comparison below highlights the parts of the original billboard that have been morphed.
- “હવે બદલાશે ગુજરાત” (Now Gujarat will change) is replaced with “નમાજ પઢશે ગુજરાત” (Now Gujarat will offer namaz).
- “ભાગવત સપ્તાહ અને સત્યનારાયણની કથા જેવી ફાલતુ પ્રવૃત્તિ છોડો” (Stop performing Bhagwat Saptah and Satyanarayan Katha) has been separately added in the morphed image.
- Gopal Italia’s photo has been replaced with an image of a man sporting a beard and Islamic turban.
In fact, the Muslim-looking person is Italia himself. With the help of a reverse image search, we found that an image of Gopal Italia was merged with a photo of Islamist armed group Ansar al-Islam founder Mullah Krekar.
In conclusion, several social media users including a journalist shared an edited image of the Aam Aadmi Party’s political billboard to falsely claim that AAP is promoting namaz and discouraging Hindu prayers in Gujarat ahead of assembly elections in the state next year.