An old Times Now news bulletin showing Rahul Shivshankar, editor-in-chief, speaking about an alleged Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) manifesto with pro-Muslim schemes accessed by the channel, has surfaced as recent on social media.
BOOM reached out to Paul Oommen, former Times Now correspondent, who confirmed to us that the video was a report by him about a 2018 poll manifesto in Telugu, by the Indian National Congress for Telangana. The Congress party had later denied releasing any manifesto with only pro-Muslim schemes as shown in the bulletin.
The video is circulating since last week after several opinion polls predicted a sweeping victory for the Congress in the Karnataka Assembly Elections held on May 10. The Congress won a total of 135 seats in the assembly polls, overthrowing the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party with a clear majority. The BJP registered wins only in 66 seats. Read BOOM’s report on the poll results here.
The viral video shows a section of a news bulletin, anchored by Times Now’s editor-in-chief Rahul Shivshankar. In the video, Shivshankar can be heard alleging that the Congress election manifesto promises schemes which are favourable only for Muslims of the state. He further states that the manifesto has been accessed exclusively from the channel’s then Hyderabad based correspondent Paul Oommen .
The video clip shows seven schemes from a document written in Telugu, which are beneficial only for Muslims.
The schemes included: special opportunities in government contracts for Muslim youth, Rs 20 Lakh as financial assistance for Muslim students, hospitals for Muslims and free electricity supply for mosques and churches in Telangana among others.
BOOM received the following message along with the video clip via its Tipline on WhatsApp for verification.
The message reads, “Is this post with video true or false? "Suicide is better for non-Muslims than voting for Congress. See the election manifesto of Congress offering facilities only to Muslims in a country where they use Secularism as the main pillar of democracy." (sic)
The same video was also shared on Twitter with the caption, “Have you heard of the Congress Manifesto? #Telangana It will shock you - all government contracts to Muslim youths - 20 lac financial aid to poor Muslim students - residential schools for Muslims only - hospitals for minorities only - free electricity supply to Mosques and Churches Etc etc Think twice before you vote Congress!"
Click here to view an archived tweet.
BOOM reached out to Paul Oommen, the then Times Now correspondent, who confirmed to us that the video was part of a news bulletin from 2018, covering a poll manifesto by the INC for Telangana.
The video was captioned as, "@Paul_Oommen takes us through the 7 'Muslim only' schemes pledged by Congress in its Telangana manifesto #CongForMuslims." The tweet is archived here.
The Times Now's editor-in-chief also held a debate on November 27, 2018 on the same topic.
We further ran a keywords search on Google and found a report published on Times Now’s website on November 27, 2018. View the archived article here. The article stated that the INC’s draft manifesto was accessed exclusively by Times Now.
A report by the Times of India, sister publication of Times Now also reported on the manifesto on November 27, 2018 and claimed that the draft copy was accessed by the network exclusively.
However, the Congress party functionaries later denied the manifesto and the pro-Muslim schemes listed there. On November 27, 2018, Mumbai Mirror quoted a close aid of Rahul Gandhi and the then-AICC secretary Madhu Goud Yaskhi as saying, "Our manifesto is not even released. It is purported to be some leaked stuff.”
An excerpt from a Newslaundry report published on November 28, 2018 stated that Times Now and Republic peddled misleading information and that the Congress manifesto released ahead of the assembly polls in Telangana was practising appeasement politics.
View the final 2018 manifesto by Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee here.
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