An alleged photograph of an envelope imprinted with the Samajwadi Party’s (SP) symbol is viral on social media. A note of Rs 500 is placed inside the envelope. Shashi Kumar, social media co-convenor of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Uttar Pradesh, shared the image and wrote, “Samajwadi vote-buying scheme”. He has posted the image ahead of the upcoming UP assembly elections. (Archived link)

It has received 24,000 shares from a BJP-supporting Facebook page called CKMKB.

Some users have also shared a version of the image where the bottom right of the envelope carries the name of SP leader Atul Pradhan, SP-RLD candidate from Sardhana constituency in UP’s Meerut. It also says “Mission 2022”.

The image is massively widespread on Facebook and if one notices carefully, some of the images show the same envelope inscribed with the BJP’s symbol.

The same has also been shared on Twitter.

Fact-check

A reverse-image search of the photo took us to posts from 2017 where the same envelope carrying the SP’s symbol were shared. The image below quite evidently does not carry Atul Pradhan’s name thus, his name has been morphed into the recent posts.

The tweet above also shares the alleged front of the envelope which carries the images and names of SP leaders from Gorakhpur – former MLA Vijay Bahadur Yadav and former minister Ram Bhual Nishad.

Alt News spoke with Yadav who was SP’s candidate from Gorakhpur Rural constituency in 2017. Yadav distanced himself from the envelope and said, “If I was behind this – bribing people for votes – how is it possible that no investigation has taken place in the last five years? The BJP is behind this shameful tactic. It is the party in power in UP. If they wanted, they could have conducted an investigation,” he said adding that his image used on the envelope is at least 15 years old. “That image is old even for 2017.”

While Alt News was unable to find details of the envelope, it is unrelated to the upcoming UP polls since it has been on the internet at least since 2017. Both the SP and the BJP have been targeted using morphed images of the same envelope.

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About the Author

Pooja Chaudhuri is a senior editor at Alt News.