The official handle of the Karnataka wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday tweeted a fake letter alleging that state Home Minister MB Patil and Sonia Gandhi, former president of the Indian National Congress “wanted to divide Hindu communities in Karnataka” to gain votes.
The same fake letter was viral on WhatsApp in 2018 just before the Karnataka Assembly elections. BOOM debunked the fake letter then after fake news website Postcard News carried a story about it and later deleted it.
The verified handle tweeted the fake letter, with the caption, “Congress exposed. The entire Lingayat & Veerashaiva community division was planted under direct instruction of Sonia Gandhi. The letter written to Sonia Gandhi by Congress leader MB Patil exposes shocking details of how Sonia Gandhi wanted to divide Hindu communities in Karnataka.”
BJP Karnataka tweeted the letter after Vijayavani, a Kannada daily, published a story on April 16, 2019 based on the fake letter replete with photos of Gandhi and Patil. The article also carried the fake letter with the story published on page 2 of their print edition.
The full page story in Kannada was titled, “Again a different fire lit by MB Patil!” and further went on to say, “Congress finds itself helpless in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections regarding the Lingayat issue”. The story also carried a photo of Patil, with the title, “Did MB Patil write a letter to Sonia Gandhi?”
While the story has also carried a previous clarification from Patil that he “did not write such a letter. The letter is fake and an investigation will be conducted”, it concludes, “…with no investigation having been conducted, the letter is most likely true.”
BJP Karnataka tweeted the e-paper version of this story with their tweet.
The fake letter was viral on WhatsApp in 2018 just before the Karnataka Assembly elections. BOOM debunked the fake letter then after fake news website Postcard carried a story about it and later deleted it.
BOOM had found that the fake letter dated July 10, 2017, addressed to Sonia Gandhi was purported to be written by Patil on the letter head of the Bijapur Lingayat District Educational Association (BLDEA) of which Patil is the president. Read our fact-check story here
The fake letter has Patil informing Gandhi about a meeting he and a few ministers held with representatives of the Global Christian Council and World Islamic Organisation regarding “strategy to be adopted” for the Karnataka assembly elections.
The letter, detailed out a strategy, about “uniting the Muslims and Christians on the basis of their faith: divide the Hindus on the basis of caste/sub-caste and sect and sub/sect. To achieve this objective it was decided that we use the difference prevailing in the Veerashaiva- Lingayat community and announce sops for Muslims and Christians in our budget and later in the election manifesto.”
A Google search for “Global Christian Council” and one for “World Islamic Organisation” did not yield any results. BOOM had also reached out to Patil who had denied such a letter and also said legal action would be taken against Postcard.
Patil had told BOOM at the time, “When I saw the story I was enraged. They have scanned a copy of the letter head of my organisation BLDEA and my signature. It is gross lie by the website and all to tarnish mine and Soniaji’s reputation…”
BOOM contacted Channegowda KN, editor, Vijayavani about the newspaper publishing the fake letter and he said, “During the 2018 elections, the same letter was viral. We saw that the same letter is viral again and have published the story saying it is doing the rounds again. We have also said that in 2018, Patil had said investigation will be conducted but no such investigation was done, which is odd.”
When informed that the organisations ‘Global Christian Council” and “World Islamic Organisation” mentioned in the fake letter do not exist, Channegowda “It is not our duty to check whether such organisations exist or not.”