Maharashtra's Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis earlier this week claimed that prime ministers and heads of state of 120 countries passed a resolution asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lead them and be their voice.
He provided no details as to the passage of this resolution or the forum at which it was passed. Fadnavis made the statement at an event of the Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday.
BOOM found these comments to be vague and based on India's presiding over the Voice of the Global South Summit, which it hosted as part of its ongoing presidency of the G20.
Fadnavis' comments also come at a time when the prime minister is embarking on a high-profile state visit to the United States.
Several press releases were issued by the Government of India that the 'Voice of the Global South Summit' - which aimed to serve as a platform specifically for the developing world and emerging markets - was attended by 120 to 125 countries on January 12 and 13 this year. However, press releases by the G20 and the government and foreign governments do not reveal the passage of any resolution that called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lead a 120-country coalition in any way.
Fadnavis' comments can be seen below.
"You would be surprised to know that the prime ministers and heads of 120 countries resolved that Modiji should be their leader and spread their voice to the world", he told his supporters during the rally.
His comments were widely reported by several news outlets which carried a byline of the Press Trust of India. Their report says that Fadnavis stopped short of spelling out the resolution or the countries involved.
BOOM found no evidence of any global initiative where the heads of state or the prime ministers of 120 countries have called on PM Modi to lead them.
However, earlier this year, India hosted a summit with 120 countries as part of its presidency of the G20. The G20 is an informal alliance of the world's top 20 countries in terms of economic heft, whose presidency is rotated annually. As this alliance has no secretariat, the president for a particular year (which usually runs from December to November) organises and hosts all initiatives of the G20 for that year.
This summit, titled 'Voice of the Global South Summit', got together ministerial-level dignitaries of over 120 countries virtually to discuss issues of overlapping significance. The 'Global South' is a colloquial term referring to economies in emerging markets and the developing world, many of whom were previously colonies of the 'Global North'.
The summit itself was divided into ten sessions, the list of which can be seen here. The ten sessions consisted of eight ministerial sessions and saw the participation of various ministers of the Government of India, including commerce, external affairs, oil and gas, finance, health, education and energy with their respective counterparts from various countries. The remaining two sessions were an opening and closing session seeing the participation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The list shows that not all 120 countries participated in all the sessions. Moreover, not all of them were attended by heads of state like presidents or prime ministers.
Further, the Government of India has released statements of the participation of several of its ministers through the Press Information Bureau. These are ministerial-level statements of their respective sessions during the summit. None of them had any mention of a resolution or a vote.
In his closing remarks too, Modi did not mention the adoption of any resolution. This can be seen here.
In February. the website of India's G20 presidency released a roundup in the form of a newsletter of the activities that took place in the month of January under its ambit. Harsh Vardhan Shangrila, the Chief Coordinator for G20 and a former Foreign Secretary of India is attributed to authoring the section dedicated to the 'Voice of the Global South Summit'. This can be seen below and found here and pages 10 and 11. This section too does not have a reference to any resolution.
Similarly, in press releases about the summit, several Indian Embassies abroad shared press statements on the sessions and highlights of the event. None of these releases have any mention of a resolution being passed.
Here are the releases by:
- The Indian Embassy in Bahrain
- High Commission of India in Australia here
- Indian Embassy in Seoul, South Korea here
Did India announce any fresh initiatives during this summit?
Yes. These initiatives were initiated to enhance India's outreach to countries of the Global South by Prime Minister Modi during his closing remarks at the Concluding Leaders' session
- 'Aarogya Maitriyi': An initiative to supply medical supplies in times of emergency or need
- A Global South Centre of Excellence
- Global South Science and Technology Initiative
- Global South Young Diplomats Forum
- Global South Scholarships
His statement can be seen here. He makes no mention of any resolution,
This is not the first time that an international event has been falsely credited to be led by India during the G20. In 2020, when Saudi Arabia was the G20's president, similar claims arose around a fake COVID-19 task force under Prime Minister Modi. The United States and the United Kingdom would be the purported members of this task force, the claim stated, which was debunked by BOOM.