A set of two images, featuring Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, on a buggy with LuLu Group International Chairman and Managing Director Yusuff Ali MA, is viral with false claims on social media.
The captions suggest that Vijayan was driven by the UAE-based Indian businessman and billionaire Yusuff Ali's driver unlike Adityanath, who was driven by Ali himself at the inauguration ceremony of the mall in Lucknow recently.
BOOM found that the man in the photo with Vijayan is UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Trade Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi and not Ali's chauffeur, as claimed in the viral posts.
Yogi Adityanath inaugurated the Lulu Mall in Lucknow on July 12.
The set of images is circulating on Facebook and Twitter with the caption, "In Kerala: Yusuff Ali made Pinarayi to sit with his chauffeur and he sat behind like a boss! In UP: Yusuff Ali became the chauffeur himself and drove Yogi ji around!! Many in Kerala are unhappy about this."
Below is a Facebook post with the same false caption.
BOOM ran a reverse image search on the photograph where Vijayan can be seen on the buggy and was led to an article by The Hindu, featuring the same image.
The caption of the photograph in The Hindu reads, "Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan touring the LuLu Mall in Thiruvananthapuram in a buggy in the company of UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi, UAE Ambassador to India Ahmed Abdulrahman AlBanna, LuLu Group International chairman and managing director Yusuff Ali M.A, and others."
BOOM then looked up the names in the caption and was able to ascertain that the man sitting beside Vijayan in the viral image is UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi.
According to the UAE's Ministry Of Economy website, Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi is the Minister Of State for Foreign Trade. An excerpt from his profile on the government website reads, "HE Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi was appointed the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, following the new UAE Government structure in July 2020, and has been assigned a file to attract the best talents and competencies to serve the strategic direction of the UAE."
Additionally, we found two other images of Vijayan inaugurating the mall with Yusuff Ali and Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi.
Zeyoudi's Twitter handle can be seen here.
The Lulu Mall controversy
Following the inauguration, a video purportedly showing a group of people offering namaz at the first floor of the mall premise went viral. The mall's management later issued a statement and distanced themselves from the incident and sent out a letter to Sushant Golf City Police clarifying that those offering namaz in the viral video were not their employees but visitors, and said it will ensure that no such incident is repeated. The mall management also put up notices on the premises stating that it will not allow any religious prayers in the mall. Hindu right-wing outfits objected to people offering namaz inside the mall and called for its boycott on social media. Right wing groups also sought to recite the Hanuman Chalisa inside the mall, in protest. Following this, Lucknow Police had taken several people taken into custody for attempting to recite Hanuman Chalisa on the mall premises without permission.
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