Recently, a meeting was scheduled by Parliament’s Standing Committee, Ministry of Urban Development on November 15 to address the deteriorating air quality in Delhi. As per a report by India Today, it had to be rescheduled because vice-chairperson of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), commissioners of three municipal zones and several MPs did not turn up, including former cricketer and current member of Lok Sabha, Gautam Gambhir. On the same day, former cricketer VVS Laxman tweeted some pictures of him in Indore with Jatin Sapru and Gambhir, enjoying jalebis.
Subsequently, there was a backlash on social media against Gambhir with the narrative that he had missed the meeting because he would rather do cricket commentary for the India vs Bangladesh test series. One of them was Aarti Chaddha, a member of Aam Aadmi Party’s social media team, who tweeted a video of Gautam Gambhir. She tweeted, “People of Delhi; Listen to what your MP is saying – a meeting on Pollution is necessary or Cricket Commentary? Next time you think twice before voting on a celebrity.”
In the eight-second video, a reporter from ANI questions, “Why didn’t you turn up for the meeting?” to which Gambhir responds “Is the meeting important or my work important? In the past five mo..”
Delhiites ; Listen what your MP is asking –
Pollution पर बैठक ज़रूरी है
या Cricket Commentary ?
×× Next time, before Voting for Celebs, Think Twice ! pic.twitter.com/NTaqRUg1bq
— Aarti (@aartic02) November 18, 2019
Here, Gautam Gambhir’s words “Is the meeting important or my work” has been interpreted as Gambhir saying his personal commitments are more important than a meeting on discussing pollution. ‘Work’ has been construed as work in personal capacity.
The video has also been posted by national media coordinator of AAP, Vikas Yogi. He tweeted with the words, “Jalebi or meeting?”
जलेबी या बैठक ? @GautamGambhir pic.twitter.com/BGrs91xoCa
— Vikas Yogi (@vikaskyogi) November 18, 2019
The video in question is real. However, it just shows eight-seconds from a 90-second interview given to ANI on November 18. Additionally, the video is misrepresented because the phrase ‘my work’ is being portrayed as Gambhir’s personal work. The narrative on social media aims to show that Gambhir has said his personal work or business contract is more important than his duties as an MP.
#WATCH: Gautam Gambhir, BJP MP says.”Agar mera jalebi khane se Delhi ka pollution badha hai, toh main hamesha ke liye jalebi chhod sakta hoon…10 minute mein mujhe troll karna shuru kar diya, agar itni mehnat Delhi ki pollution ko kam karne mein ki hoti toh hum saas le pate.” pic.twitter.com/K2oW5qokht
— ANI (@ANI) November 18, 2019
In the original video, Gambhir says, “Is the meeting important or my work important? I have listed the work I have done in the past five months. Please look at the work done over the past five years by them (referring to the AAP government). I have informed them (Parliament’s Standing Committee) via email on November 11, that I will not be able to attend the meeting because of contractual obligations. It is not like I informed them (the committee) on November 13. Instead of trolling me, if they (AAP government) had worked on addressing the issue of air pollution we would be breathing properly.”
The video in question has been deliberately clipped. As a result, when Gambhir says “Is the meeting important or my work”, the viewers do not know the full context. As a result, a false narrative was built on social media. After listening to the complete interview, it is clear that Gambhir was referring to parliamentary work and not what is sought to be projected.
In conclusion, a clipped video of Gautam Gambhir was circulated on social media in order to portray him as indifferent to the issue of pollution in the national capital.
Independent journalism that speaks truth to power and is free of corporate and political control is possible only when people start contributing towards the same. Please consider donating towards this endeavour to fight fake news and misinformation.