These photos are from a 2018 political event in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh
A composite image showing politicians from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party sitting on a stage alongside empty chairs has been shared in multiple Facebook posts that claim it shows sparse attendance at a political rally in the east Indian state of West Bengal, which is currently holding elections. The claim is false: the images actually show a political event in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in January 2018, more than three years before the West Bengal state poll.
The Facebook post shares a composite photo published here on March 25, 2021, which shows politicians from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Mahendra Nath Pandey, Amit Shah, Yogi Adityanath, with an image of empty chairs below their group photo.
The post’s Hindi caption translates to English as: “Food packets being kept to entice the crowd. They have finished all the jobs and are talking about creating employment in Bengal. Making false promises is a daring job.”
The sticker text on the image says: “food packets to attract the crowd."
The east Indian state of West Bengal is currently holding elections, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party seeking to end a decade of rule by the state's firebrand leader Mamata Banerjee.
The claims, however, are false.
A reverse search found the images actually show an event in Varanasi city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in January 2018.
The photo of the empty chairs was published here on news website Live Hindustan on January 20, 2018 in an article about BJP leader Amit Shah holding a rally to connect with youths in Varanasi.
The report is headlined: “Join BJP for national development: Amit Shah.” The photo caption reads: “Empty chairs at the rally.”
Below is a screenshot comparison of the misleading post photo (L) and Live Hindustan photo (R)
A video of the entire event was streamed live here on BJP’s official YouTube channel on January 20, 2018.
Below is a screenshot comparison of the misleading post's photo of three BJP ministers (L) and screengrab taken from YouTube video (R):
Hindi newspaper Amar Ujala also published this report on January 22, 2018 saying “the event witnessed a very low turnout.”