Rahul Gandhi video edited to falsely claim he 'backed BJP over Congress'

As Indians voted in marathon six-week elections, a doctored video of opposition leader Rahul Gandhi appearing to endorse the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) circulated online. The footage appears to show Gandhi saying the BJP will "save democracy". However, in the original video, he urged voters to back his Congress party and warned that the BJP would "destroy democracy". 

"This is typical Rahul Gandhi," read a Hindi-language post on X, formerly Twitter, that shared the video on May 20. 2024.

Gandhi is India's main opposition leader whose Congress party spearheaded an alliance against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP in national elections.

Analysts widely predict the polls will hand Modi, 73, a third term in power when results are announced on June 4.

The video appears to show Gandhi warning that his own party and opposition alliance "are trying to destroy democracy and the constitution" and appealing to voters to instead back Modi.

"The BJP and RSS are saving the constitution and democracy," he appears to say in Hindi, referring to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh hardline Hindu group that counts Modi as a lifelong member.

He also appears to say that Modi will "make millions of women and youth millionaires".

"Save us, press the button for Narendra Modi," he appears to add.

Screengrab of the false post taken on May 25, 2024.

The video was shared in similar posts on Facebook here and here.

Doctored video

A Google reverse image search found the original video posted on Gandhi's official YouTube channel on April 25, 2024 (archived link). 

"Fulfil your democratic duty, support Congress, press the hand button!" the post's Hindi caption says, referring to the Congress party's symbol of a raised hand on the Indian flag.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in false posts (left) and on Gandhi's YouTube channel (right):

Screenshot comparison of the video  in false posts (left) and on Gandi's YouTube channel (right)

In the video, Gandhi accuses the BJP and RSS of "trying to destroy democracy and the constitution" and urges voters to back Congress.

"This election is an election to save democracy and the constitution," he says.

"On one side, the BJP and RSS are trying to destroy democracy and the constitution. On the other side, the Congress Party and the INDIA alliance are working to save the constitution and democracy."

Furthermore, he says that Congress -- not Modi -- will "make millions of women and youth millionaires".

At the end of the video, he appeals to voters to "Support the Congress party" and "Save the constitution and press the hand button."

The Indian Express newspaper reported on Gandhi's video in a YouTube report titled: "Rahul Gandhi Urges Voters To Protect Constitution And Democracy Ahead of Lok Sabha (Parliamentary) Elections" (archived link).

AFP has debunked more misinformation around the Indian election here

The headline of this story was amended for clarity
June 6, 2024 The headline of this story was amended for clarity

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