The world has come to terms with being routinely assailed by post-truths, fake news and “WhatsApp universities” that peddle them. The global right-wing is known to be their beneficiary as well as their source and promoter.
The latest offender, however, is a leading TV channel. It aired a misleading video of former Congress president Rahul Gandhi. BJP leaders, including three MPs and an MLA, shared it. The video is of Mr Gandhi saying post an attack by activists of the Students’ Federation of India on his office in his constituency, Wayanad, in Kerala that he bears no ill will towards the “children”. The video, however, made it out as if Mr Gandhi were referring to the terrorists who beheaded a tailor in Udaipur for his social media support to suspended BJP leader Nupur Sharma who had allegedly slighted the name of Prophet Muhammad.
When the Congress realised the damaging potential of such a video, it brought it to the notice of the BJP leadership seeking an early stoppage of the circulation of the same, but to no avail. It was shocking indeed that among those who tweeted the video was BJP MP Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, who handled the information and broadcasting ministry in the first edition of the Narendra Modi government. The Congress has now filed an FIR against the perpetrators of the fraud. Yet the drama that the Uttar Pradesh police staged by whisking away the TV anchor who aired the video first when the Chhattisgarh police came for him was only part of a grand charade.
Democracy functions through institutions and political parties run two of the most important such institutions — the legislature and the executive. It will be tough in today’s India for a political party to pass the “Karatmeter test” but there should be some respect for the basic tenets of democratic functioning.
Parties must stop at least its public faces from resorting to such ignoble practices. They must remember that fake news will be passé one day but democracy will survive still....