• Saturday, June 22, 2024

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BJP’s video attacking Congress, Muslims sparks outrage

A file photo of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters during a public meeting attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Chennai on March 4, 2024. (Photo by R. Satish BABU / AFP)

By: Shajil Kumar

A few days ago an animated video targeting India’s Congress party and the Muslim community was taken down from Instagram after many users flagged it over hate speech concerns.

But the animated clip that depicts the Congress giving disproportionate benefits to the Muslim community, at the cost of certain disadvantaged tribal and Hindu caste groups, is still circulating on WhatsApp and other messenger platforms.

What is shocking is that this incendiary video was posted from the official account of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, and not made viral by any rogue party supporter.

The script was a reiteration of a speech Modi himself delivered on the campaign trail last month in Rajasthan, amid the six-week-long general elections.

During the election rally he said: “When the Congress-led government was in power, they had said that Muslims have the first right over the country’s assets. This means that they will distribute wealth to those who have more children and those who are infiltrators. Is this acceptable to you?”

The BJP often paints the Congress as a Muslim-appeasing party to appeal to its own core voter base.

The Congress party on Sunday filed a complaint with the Election Commission and said the video was made to “wantonly provocate rioting and promote enmity between different religions”.

A set of guidelines mutually adopted by political parties for how they should conduct themselves during the election period prohibits them from creating “mutual hatred” between caste, religious or linguistic groups.

Indian political parties make widespread use of online platforms, following improvements in internet connectivity and a steep rise in smartphone usage.

But the downside has been misleading and hate-filled posts and videos that often promote fake news and enmity among communities. These posts and videos are widely circulated among closed WhatsApp groups and other platforms.

This election is also witnessing the use of AI tools to create deep fake videos. Recently there were deep fake videos showing top Bollywood stars purportedly criticising the prime minister.

There was another video showing home minister Amit Shah purportedly saying that the BJP stands against reservation for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, and other backward communities.

An investigation has been launched and numerous arrests have been made in this connection.

The election commission has warned parties against the misuse of AI tools to create such deep fake videos.

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