BJP’s Sambit Patra is facing public criticism for using fake news to target former Congress President Sonia Gandhi over her wealth estimation. Taking part in a debate on News18 recently, Patra launched a tirade quoting a report by Huffington Post to allege that Sonia Gandhi had been included as the fourth richest woman in the world by the website.
An animated Sambit Patra told the audience amidst applause, “suniye, main aapko example dena chahta hoon. Huffington Post 4th richest woman, world’s richest Sonia Gandhi. Kya kaam kiya Sonia Gandhi ji ne jo 4th richest woman of the world ban gayi. aap mujhe bataiye aaj kaun si industry hai unki, kaun si kheti hai unki. Kaun si zameen hai unki. Ye uttar mujhe aaj Congress ke pravakta se chahiye. (Listen to me, I want to give you an example. Huffington Post placed Sonia Gandhi as the world’s fourth richest woman. What did she do to achieve this feat? You tell me which industry does she own today? What sort of farming is she into? What land does she own? I want an answer from the Congress spokesperson today.”
Although, the Congress spokesperson on the show questioned the source (Huffington Post) quoted by Patra, he did not tell the controversial BJP spokesperson that Huffington Post had removed Sonia Gandhi’s name from its 2013 list because it had relied on a dubious source. The website had also expressed its ‘regret’ over the ‘confusion.’
Huffington Post had posted a list of richest world leaders in November 2013. However, upon publishing the list, it removed Sonia Gandhi’s name. The website had explained, “Editor’s Note: Sonia Gandhi and the former emir of Qatar Hamid bin Khalifa al-Thani have been removed from this list. Gandhi was originally included based on a listing on a third party site which was subsequently called into question. Our editors have been unable to verify the amount, removed the link, and regret any confusion. Qatar’s emir was succeeded by his son Tamim in 2013.”
But despite, Huffington Post issuing a clarification and apologising in November 2013, Patra confidently used the fake claim to embarrass the Congress party. As expected, his action once again made him a target of criticism from social media users.
Academic and columnist Ashok Swain wrote, “Patra is a fake news ATM (pre-demonetization period)” User Aayeff wrote, “You can’t straighten a dog’s tail. Sambit does it again. Lies and fraud! That’s what BJP excels in.” Ankit Srivastava wrote, “A thief may give up stealing, but he will not stop his fraudulent activities.”
This is not the first time, Patra has relied on fake news to attack his opponents. In 2017, he had used a fake Pakistani website Times of Islamabad to attack NDTV. This had taken place just three days after he was unceremoniously asked to leave the debate by an anchor on the channel.