New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has been caught red-handed running fake-news on Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar. What is more shocking is that its own functionaries accepted it, tacitly though, as a mistake. 

In Haryana, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) of the Chautalas is also in connivance. 

A fake newspaper clipping quoting Khattar as having said that he was the chief minister of only Punjabis was posted from the Twitter account of a student leader of INLD. 

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The fake newspaper clip was then widely tweeted and retweeted and shared on WhatsApp by top functionaries of AAP.
An FIR has been filed in Gurugram against Sanjeev Jakhar, state vice-president of INLD’s students wing Indian National Student Organisation (INSO). He was later arrested.

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MyNation accessed the FIR as a piece of incriminating evidence on how the false news machinery had been churning.
Moreover, Delhi CM and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal used this fake news item, circulated by his own party, as the basis of his public criticism of Khattar. 

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Kejriwal promised that while the BJP was doing sectional politics, AAP must be given a chance to stop caste-based politicking in Haryana.
When MyNation reached out to Sudhir Yadav, RTI head and spokesperson of AAP and one of those who had retweeted the fake newspaper clipping, admitted that “a mistake, though an honest one” had been committed. He also admitted that the party leaders and functionaries did not cross-check the veracity of the news item before endorsing it.

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“The fake news clipping was shared by an INLD leader Ravinder Singh Dhul. So we assumed that it was authentic. Later, one of our cadre based out of Sirsa shared this information from our official handle which was there for four hours before we asked him to take it down. Before it could be done, the police arrested him,” Yadav told MyNation.

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Yadav, however, blamed the BJP for weaving a web of conspiracy against AAP. “We did not share it with malafide intent. But, the BJP deliberately waited for the post to go viral and then cry foul,” he added.

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Meanwhile, the BJP lambasted the AAP for systematically running a fake news to defame its leaders. “There is a concerted attempt to spread fake news disguised as media clippings attributing statements, which could potentially cause rift and resentment in specific caste groups, to senior leaders,” BJP’s national head of IT Amit Malviya said.

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Earlier, a similar attempt was made by the Congress and its Bihar mahagathbandhan ally RJD to attack BJP chief Amit Shah. 

In a similar fake newspaper clipping, Shah was quoted as having attacked and demeaned the ‘Baniya’ — the trader communities and castes. The article bore the headline “Chori aur Munafakhori Desh ke Baniyo ki Aadat: Amit Shah”.

It was claimed that Shah had said this while campaigning in Bundi in Rajasthan. The image was tweeted from the handle of Jitu Patwari, the working president of Congress in Madhya Pradesh. Later the post was deleted. 

Sanjay Yadav, the political adviser to ex-Bihar deputy CM and Lalu Yadav’s son Tejashwi Yadav, also shared this post on Twitter.

With Anindya Banerjee