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The Truth About Gulf News’ ‘Pappu’ Front Page Story

The Truth About Gulf News’ ‘Pappu’ Front Page Story

Yes, Gulf News used ‘Pappu’ in its headline about Rahul Gandhi. Here’s why.

Gulf News on Rahul Gandhi
Screenshot of Gulf News Edition dated January 9,2019

A photo showing a copy of a Gulf News’ article featuring a caricature of Rahul Gandhi along with a partial headline went viral over social media this week.

The rest of the headline is indistinguishable as the newspaper in the photograph is folded.

The image is however being shared with a misleading caption that says, “PAPPU goes International. Even “GULF NEWS” knows Rahul Gandhi is called PAPPU in India.”

Gulf News is a Dubai-based English daily.

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O:) बड़े शर्म की बात है की आज भी उसको पप्पू ही बोला गया है, gulfnews.com चेक करलो (y) 2019 #फिर_से_मोदी

Posted by Bhavtosh Sharma on Sunday, January 13, 2019
Shared on Facebook page Modified India

A tweet claiming Rahul Gandhi was called

Mahesh Vikram Hegde, founder of fake news website Postcard News also shared the image.

Hegde’s tweet

Fact Check

The Gulf News clipping is actually the headline of an interview published in the daily on January 8, 2019. The entire headline reads, ‘How ‘Pappu’ Label Has Changed Rahul’.

Ahead of his two-day visit to Dubai and Abu Dhabi on January 12, Rahul Gandhi spoke to Bobby Naqvi, UAE editor of the Gulf News (India). You can read the full interview here.

The headline, along with Gandhi’s caricature, was carried on page 1 of the newspaper’s January 9 edition.

Page 1 of Gulf News’ January 9 edition

A preview of the front page was also tweeted by the official handle of the newspaper.

The full interview was carried on page 3 of the newspaper. During the interview, the Congress president had talked about the ‘Pappu-label’ among other things.

Below is a screenshot from the article.

Excerpts from the interview

However, when BOOM tried to look for the interview with the headline ‘How Pappu Label Has Changed Rahul’, we were directed to an article with a different headline.

BOOM reached out to Gulf News to understand why the newspaper and the website decided to use separate headlines.

Bobby Naqvi, UAE editor of the Gulf News said, “Instead of a political headline we wanted something about him that is why that headline was chosen on the front page promo but unfortunately some people actually they misled the people by taking (only) the top line of the headline.” 

“The image of the caricature was used on the front page and since we had asked him about the ‘Pappu’ label he responded in detail, actually I was surprised he spoke in detail,” Naqvi told BOOM.

“He’s not bothered about what the opponents are saying and in fact he learned a lot since 2014. So that was quite an intelligent answer.”

Search result for the ‘Pappu’ label headline

What’s In A Name?

The ‘Pappu’ moniker has stuck with Rahul Gandhi since the run up to the 2014 Assembly elections. It was somewhere in 2013 that the opposition started referring to Gandhi as Pappu to mock him, and the name stuck.

There have also been instances where Gandhi referred to the term in his speeches. The famous ‘Parliamentary’ hug that Gandhi had extended to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 20, 2018, also saw the mention of ‘Pappu’.

The Congress president had said in Hindi: “You might have hatred towards me, anger towards me, I might be Pappu for you…you can give me different abuses, but I don’t have an iota of hatred or angst towards you.”

Rahul Gandhi hugged Prime Minister Narendra Modi after this speech in Parliament

This story was updated on January 18, 2019 with comments from Gulf News.

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Claim Review : Gulf News Called Rahul Gandhi 'Pappu'

Fact Check : Misleading


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Sumit is a fact checker and the News Editor of Boom's Hindi wing. In the six years of his journalistic career, he has worked with the New Indian Express, Times of India and Deccan Chronicle. The dynamic nature of digital media finally made him take the leap from print to online, and don the hat of a digital detective.

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