Chiding the BJP national president and some Union ministers for continuing to retain retweets of the discredited Patra tweet — which formed the basis for subsequent BJP attacks on the Congress — the opposition party asserted it would continue to pursue police complaints it has filed in this regard and also take legal recourse.
“It breaks our heart to realise that when Congress men and women are helping whoever with oxygen, medicine, ambulance etc, the ruling party, the BJP, is busy maligning our leadership through absolute fakery. They created fake content just to divert attention from their own failure. We are happy that BJP and its leadership’s bluff has been called. They have been exposed,” said AICC general secretary (Organisation) KC Venugopal said at the official briefing in New Delhi on Friday. “We don’t want to say anything more about serial offenders. We leave it to the people’s court. I could have demanded apology and action from the BJP president but, what action can one expect if he himself is involved in peddling lies,” he said.
Congress research cell head Rajeev Gowda told ET that the party will take BJP’s ‘fraud and forgery’ to court. “We took one look at it and we knew it was fake. Every document that we create goes through proper scrutiny. We will take this to court as this is not the first time that they have tried to vilify us, call us anti-nationals to digress from actual issues. It is shameful that instead of taking me on, they launched an online attack on a woman member of our research staff,” Gowda told ET.
Apart from party chief JP Nadda, Union ministers Piyush Goyal, Pralhad Joshi, Smriti Irani, Hardeep Puri, Anurag Thakur and Kiren Rijiju and Uttarahand and Manipur CMs and BJP general secretary BL Santhosh had alleged ‘Congress toolkit exposed’ in retweets.
Assistant professor of computer science at Ashoka University Debayan Gupta told ET: “Just as a regular person in these times, I don’t want to trust screenshots. In this case, it looked particularly manipulative. When you download any document from anywhere, particularly a PDF file, it comes with its share of metadata where it was created and when was it last modified. There is also a location attributed which is basically a link of where it has been downloaded from. In this case, the document had no complex source but just said WhatsApp. It was absolutely clear it was a manipulated file because it was like saying here is a link to a Youtube video but the link is actually to Youtube.com,” he said.
A BJP insider said the document was first shared by a twitter handle called Team Bharat and then picked up by Sambit Patra. The posts were also shared by the leaders on Facebook but it is yet to flag them. BJP spokesman Guru Prakash Paswan alleged “there is enough evidence about how Congress has tried to make this all about itself instead of working with the Centre on Covid-19 management. Even the former MP CM has been caught making wrong statements”.