The Election Commission of India under Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora has faced allegations of being the most compromised constitutional body in living memory. Not too long ago, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had alleged that RSS men had infiltrated the national poll body. This was seconded by Congress President President Rahul Gandhi, who exclusively told Janta Ka Reporter’s editor-in-chief Rifat Jawaid that RSS men had infiltrated almost all constitutional bodies.
Days later, the Election Commission appeared to confirm these allegations by sharing an article from OpIndia, a pro-Hindutva blog page notorious for peddling fake news. The EC did so to defend its claims that EVMs were fool-proof. No sooner did the EC share the OpIndia article, it began to face widespread condemnation from journalists and political parties on social media.
Divya Spandana, also know as Ramya, of the Congress sarcastically wrote on Twitter, “Thank you for confirming your relationship.” Journalist Rohan Venkat wrote, “It’s not just that it’s OpIndia, it’s that it’s an OpIndia post that gets its evidence from… Quora.” Journalist Prashant Kumar tweeted, “Hahaha! Of all the publications, it’s OpIndia. *Slow claps*” Journalist Deepanjana wrote, “The ECI — supposedly THE authority on EVMs — is posting an article from Opindia, which relies upon answers posted in Quora, to establish EVMs are tamper-proof. I can’t think of a better way to convince everyone who sees this tweet that EVMs are dodgy.”
The hilarious aspect of the OpIndia article defending EVMs was that its information was obtained from Quora, which is a highly unreliable source of information since it relies on its users submitting of information on contentious topics.
The CPI-M too reacted to the EC’s decision to share the fake propaganda blog’s link. It wrote, “Shocking EC using BJP supported FakeNews site opindia’s article to assure voters about EVMs! Is EC deliberately trying to destroy its own credibility or has the handle being taken over by BJP IT Cell?”
Faced with widespread condemnation, the Election Commission was forced to delete its tweet. Janta Ka Reporter’s editor-in-chief Rifat Jawaid was one of the first to slam the national poll body for its brazen decision to reply on the peddler of fake news to make a case on EVMs.
Conclusive evidence of how @ECISVEEP has made a laughing stock of themselves. They’re sharing link of a fake propaganda website to prove EVM is safe. I wonder why @SpokespersonECI @ECISVEEP did not add ‘Chowkidar’ prefix to their Twitter handle. It’s long overdue. pic.twitter.com/IxQYl9wahh
— Rifat Jawaid (@RifatJawaid) May 22, 2019
OpIndia, often deemed as an extension to BJP’s IT Cell, has had a history of peddling fake news. Last year, it had to face embarrassment after the Mumbai Police gave a public dressing down to a Rajasthan IAS officer, Sanjay Dixit, for posting the OpIndia link on Twitter. Dixit had to delete his tweet based on a fake story, published by the right-wing blog page.
In December last year, the notorious blog page was back in the news after it resorted to spreading fake news. This time, its act came despite the Rajasthan Police calling out a Twitter user for mischievously using a six-month-old video from Ranchi with a misleading caption that claimed Muslims were beating up people in Rajasthan after the Congress’ electoral victory.
The user in question quickly deleted the video, but OpIndia went on to carry an article on the topic.
In March this year, the propaganda blog page audaciously applied for ‘International Fact-Checking Network’ certification, but had to face rejection with a humiliating note.