No, this is not a real image of an Indian politician joining a rival party

An image has been shared hundreds of times in posts on Facebook and Twitter alongside a claim it shows the chief minister of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, N. Chandrababu Naidu, joining a rival political party. The claim is false; the image has been doctored from an original in which Naidu does not appear.

The image was shared in this Facebook post by Indian film director Ram Gopal Varma on April 13, 2019 and has been shared more than 970 times since.

Below is a screenshot of the misleading post:

Snapshot of the misleading post

Indian politician N. Chandrababu Naidu can be seen on the left of the image. This is his verified Twitter profile, where he describes himself as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh state, and the president of the Telugu Desam Party.

Indian politician YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is on the right-hand side of the image. This is his verified Twitter account, where he describes himself as president of YSRCP.

"YSRCP" refers to the Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party, a political party in Andhra Pradesh. This is its official Twitter account.

In the image, Naidu can be seen wearing a blue, white and green striped scarf with the initials YSRCP written on it. 

The misleading Facebook post’s caption says: “Wowwww in a shocking twist, just now CBN joined YSRCP.”

“CBN” is a reference to to N. Chandrababu Naidu.

Varma also posted the same image with the same claim on his Twitter account here.

Naidu and Jagan Mohan Reddy are rival candidates in India’s ongoing elections, according to local media reports for example here and here.

A Google reverse image search found the image had been doctored from an original photo published here by the YSRCP on Twitter on March 16, 2019.

Below is a screenshot of the original image:

Screenshot of original image

The Telugu-language caption translates to English as: “Former MP, Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, who joined the YSR Congress party in the presence of YS Jagan. Yayasan Jagan, who has been invited to the party with a scarf”.

Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy is a local politician in Andhra Pradesh state. This is his official Facebook page.

He also posted the original image on his Facebook page here.

The original photo was also published by Indian news site The Hindu on March 17, 2019, here.

Below is a screenshot of the article:

Screenshot of original image published on news website

The New Indian Express published this report on April 18, 2019, stating a complaint was filed against Ram Gopal Varma for sharing the doctored photo.

On April 17, 2019, local police Inspector P. Jagadeeshwar, told AFP by phone that an activist had filed a complaint in Bachupally police station in Hyderabad against the film director.

"A complaint has been filed and the matter is under investigation. However, no case has been registered as of now. We are investigating the matter," Inspector P. Jagadeeshwar said by phone.