The official Twitter handle of BJP’s Bengal unit posted an edited video of Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee asking people to vote for the BJP and the crowd responding by chanting PM Modi’s name.
In the video, that has gone viral with 3283 likes and 1339 retweets at the time of writing this article, Banerjee is shown saying, “In this democracy, vote for BJP government and, vote for BJP government and, vote for BJP government and…”
The video then cuts to the crowd, seemingly wearing BJP colours and shown as chanting PM Modi’s name.
BOOM also found similar posts being shared on Facebook with the same caption.
BJP Bengal’s tweet says “The impact of MODI TSUNAMI – @mamataofficial appeals everyone to vote for BJP! The first time she’s made any sense during this election campaign! Thanks a ton DIDI !!”
TMC’s official Twitter handle responded by saying that Banerjee in her original speech had said, “On May 6, in this democracy, Vote and put the BJP government in the grave”, and claimed that the part had been edited to take it out of context and make it appear supportive of BJP.
It also posted an unedited video of the speech, which took place during a public meeting in the village of Khanakul on April 23, 2019, asserting it to be evidence of their claim.
BOOM scrutinised the video posted by BJP Bengal’s Twitter handle, and observed that there are clear signs of the video being tampered.
At the 4-second mark, Banerjee is heard saying, “Vote for BJP sarkar and..”, after which her speech gets cut abruptly and put on loop, so that she is heard saying the same phrase three times.
Quite a few users seemed to have spotted the doctoring, while some others appeared to be oblivious to it.
BOOM accessed the unedited version of Banerjee’s speech at Khanakul, and found that the claim made by TMC’s Twitter handle is correct.
The part of the speech which has been used in the doctored video can be found at the 35:50 mark. Banerjee can clearly be heard saying, “Vote and put the BJP government in the grave.”
In Bengali, the sentence goes like, “BJP sarkar ke vote diye kobor din“. In the doctored version, the last two words ‘kobor din’, which suggests putting in the grave, have been edited out, which roughly translates the rest of the sentence to, “Vote for BJP government and..”
This suggests a classic example of a complacent attempt at editing a video, where the final result does not make grammatical sense.
The doctored video also ends with the crowd chanting Modi’s name, with quite a few of them wearing saffron scarves and caps, much like those worn by BJP supporters.
Given the clear evidence of doctoring in the video, BOOM found it suspicious to find people coming in BJP colours at a TMC rally – given the rivalry between the two parties – and deduced that it may have been taken from a BJP rally.
After going through the videos of recent BJP rallies in Bengal, BOOM found the original source of the part of the doctored video where the crowd chants Modi’s name.
After comparing screenshots of the crowd from both the videos, it is clear that the clip has been taken from the same BJP rally, where Modi is heard giving a speech.
Thin line between satire and fake
BOOM reached out the Dilip Ghosh, president of BJP’s Bengal unit, who acknowledged that the video was edited and claimed that it was done in jest.
“Netizens must have edited it with an aim to poke fun at Mamata Banerjee. As it’s clearly understood that the video is edited. Like the way Rahul Gandhi ‘s videos are often edited and posted online. So I don’t know what’s the hue and cry about,” said Ghosh. He could not explain why a verified handle of the party would associate itself with a doctored video.
However, satire without disclaimer has often been an issue in the past, as it has gone viral as fake news. BOOM has encountered several instances of fake news which originated from satirical websites or social media handles. Two examples can be found here and here.