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File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi | PTI
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Whatsapp forwards create the impression that the truth is something other than what the mainstream media is presenting.

The flight of diamond businessmen Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi from the country has hit the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi running a government that does not tolerate corruption. It has also fuelled opposition attacks, media scrutiny and a million memes on social media.

But there’s a parallel Whatsapp universe, where the Modi government magically looks good on this issue. This alternative universe has a distinct deja vu feel to it: somehow, it’s like you’re back in 2013, when all the scams were caused by the Congress-led government.

A perception crisis as big as Nirav-gate can potentially hurt the government’s image even among its own supporters. At a time like this, the peer-to-peer medium and the best friend of fake news, Whatsapp, is coming to the government’s rescue. It creates the impression that the truth is something other than what the mainstream media is presenting.

Here are some examples:

1. One meme credited to a website called “TheIndiaEye” says the opponents of demonetisation have received a karara jawab (strong reply). It quotes a Hindi newspaper as saying it was thanks to demonetisation that Nirav Modi’s bank fraud was exposed. “Now you know why all the thieves and the corrupt were crying hoarse over demonetisation,” it says in Hindi. At the bottom of the meme are images of leaders from the opposition.

2. Another one from “TheIndiaEye” has a then-and-now comparison between the Manmohan and Modi regimes. The Nirav Modi scam, it says, was taking place when Manmohan Singh, the great economist, was prime minister. But the scam was exposed when Narendra Modi, a chaiwala, became prime minister.

This is contrary to the photograph of Nirav Modi being seen with prime minister Modi in Davos, or how the scam continued until recently, or how the businessman managed to escape the country under the Modi government’s watch.

3. An obviously fake cheque suggests Nirav Modi made a donation of Rs 98 crore to the Congress party in 2011.

4. An emotionally charged video, with a voice speaking in Hindi in the background, names various industrial groups and claims the Modi government’s recovery of loans from all of them is forcing them to sell their assets. News channels, it claims, won’t show you this “breaking news”.

5. Another meme questions how the Manmohan Singh regime gave loans to Nirav Modi when he’s a British citizen, his brother is a Belgian citizen, and his wife an American. It concludes that Sonia Gandhi looted the country after having installed a dummy prime minister.

The meme claims that Nirav Modi did not commit any fraud after 2014. If Nirav Modi was a Belgian citizen, how does the Modi government claim to have cancelled his passport?

6. “You may not know,” says a message in Hindi, “but the stunning news is that 5,200 bank employees have been arrested since 2014. One bank employee gets arrested every four hours. No corrupt person will be spared under the Modi government. Every penny will have to be accounted for.” Obviously, no such large scale arrests of bank employees have taken place.

7. Another visual meme, complete with the Congress’s election symbol, lists large loans “given by Congress government in 2004-2013, all NPA now” and claims that the BJP government is cleaning up the Congress’ mess by recovering these loans. The beneficiaries include Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya. This meme is credited to a web platform called “Modinama”.

8. A list of 14 questions in English seeks to shift the blame for Nirav Modi fraud to the opposition. Did Nirav Modi speak to Robert Vadra on the phone before fleeing the country? Did a Congress-friendly businessman (names redacted) deposit Rs 48 crore in the Swiss bank account number 35833342181 that belongs to Nirav’s aide? If yes, why? Did ‘Raul Vinci’ meet Nirav Modi during his 2016 trips to London and Bangkok? There’s even an accusatory question for Raghuram Rajan.

9. A text-heavy photo meme lists of 14 industrial groups who were allegedly “given” loans by the Congress government – as though getting a bank loan itself is a crime. The meme alleges that all these industrial groups are run by friends of the Congress party.

It requests all “Modi bhakts” to widely share the meme to expose the Congress party.

“It is to hide its own crime that the Congress party’s yuvraj (Rahul Gandhi) is screaming on the top of his voice that all the nation’s wealth is in the hands of a few industrialists who are being saved.”

10. An old fake news item that claims the BBC declared the Congress as the world’s fourth most corrupt party. The BBC never made any such declaration.

Shivam Vij is a political commentator based in New Delhi.

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14 Comments Share Your Views

14 COMMENTS

  1. So Shekhar Gupta & your this “The Print” as well as your socall author of this Opinion of “In WhatsApp forwards on Nirav Modi, PM Modi is the selfless hero & Congress the villain”(https://theprint.in/2018/03/02/whatsapp-forwards-nirav-modi-pm-modi-selfless-hero-congess-evil-villain/) give us the clear information when was the period the Loan was sanctioned to Nirav Modi ,Vijay Mallaya & some others.we want to know “which government was arranged the Loan for the defaulters Nirav Modi,Vijay Mallaya,etc.could you please give us this information & expose it.Thanks

  2. That’s why he’s called”feku”. These people are number 1 cowards-cant win a single Election without canards, cheating, fraud, communal hatred.Don’t have an iota of doubt-these kinds of yarn manufactured in BJP IT cell and spread thro it’s dedicated bhakths ?
    1

  3. So anything that doesn’t fit with ur narrative is fake news? I’m not for BJP or Congress but it’s idiotic articles by people like u that push people over to the less mainstreamed side.. like how many Clinton supporters sided with trump at the end. You can’t push a one sided story and expect people to take it at face value.. Most Indians aren’t that dumb or gullible anymore.

  4. & finally Nirav Modi left India when BJP was in power & with the transferred of Millions of $, this should be included in this news.

  5. There are lot many fake memes created by congress supporters blaming Modi..even those are not true…you need to present both…you can not just deny the fact that these lones were sanctioned with political interference…and yea didnt want to say but you seem Like a bootlicker of congress…

  6. What you think we people are fool. These four year of bjp is responsible for all these nonsense and loss to the people of India. After all they are the ruling party and they are responsible.they can’t blame it on rio.

  7. Who the hell r u guys saying that it’s fake news pappu ke chamcha’s.Thodi bohot patriotism bachi Hai to sharam karo wo Pakistan Mai Jake apne he desh ke pm ko hatane ki baate press Mai Kar ra Hai Kya pata andar andar assassinate karne ka plan bana ke aiya ho sharam karo.Chamchas

    • Lol. Not a single thing to say about the content of the article. Repeating the same fake rhetoric that bhakts have now become famous for.

      Fake news is being spread and you don’t seem to be concerned about that at all. And you call yourself a patriot?

  8. The tragedy is
    A fraud committed by bank employee s
    And
    A corrupt congress regime including it’s leaders and ministers who looted the country.
    Both the issues are being looked same by the media.
    But to whose benifit

  9. Communal Indians. They are blindly in love with BJP. And they ll blame Congress even for contracting a sneeze. All gold and diamond jewellers had prior knowledge of demonetisation, and minted money in November of 2016. Everyone knows that. Poor, dumb Hindus can keep deluding themselves. But their man is a colossal failure and more corrupt than Congress.

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