New Delhi: The opposition seems to be on overdrive peddling fake news to discredit the government. The latest in the series is a ‘letter’ from veteran BJP leader and HRD minister of Atal Bihari Vajpayee government Murli Manohar Joshi to party patriarch LK Advani. The dubious letter has surfaced barely a day after a purported letter from veterans in the armed forces to President Ram Nath Kovind made news, which was subsequently disowned by most retired officers whose names appeared as signatories in the letter.
In the past 24 hours, the following letter bearing the logo of news agency ANI was circulated on social media, most virulently via WhatsApp.
Explosive claims were made in the letter like the BJP was going to perform poorly in the first phase of the Lok Sabha election. The letter urged Advani to speak up.
Soon, social media handles, the timelines of which give away their political affiliation, tried to make the letter go viral.
What looked prima facie odd in the letter was a generous use of Urdu expressions, in other words, terms borrowed from foreign languages Arabic and Persian: saaf, bamushkil, saabit, khoob, tamaam, baavajood, etc. Like other swayamsevaks of the RSS, Joshi is not known to be fond of words borrowed from foreign languages in his Hindi. But that would have at best been a theory, not proof that the letter was fake.
It was possible that the typist, and not the scholar-politician, made the orthographical errors like repeatedly writing परिस्थितियों as परिस्तिथियों or व्यवहारिकताओं as व्यवहारिकतों.
Saying that Joshi is not given to making psephological predictions would be a theory too, not evidence.
An endorsement of Shatrughan Sinha is not expected from Joshi either. But that, again, would be a theory.
Why the letter from Joshi is fake
Two developments thereafter, however, sealed the fate of the mischievous mail.
One, Belwal Rajiv, the personal secretary of Joshi, exposed the truth of the letter.
Soon after that, ANI issued a statement that it had done no such story and that the logo that appears on the letter above is an act of forgery. “Screenshots of BJP MP Murli Manohar Joshi statement on his letter head is circulating on WhatsApp and Twitter with an ANI watermark. No such letter exists. This is fake,” the news agency wrote on Twitter.
Statement: Screenshots of BJP MP Murli Manohar Joshi statement on his letter head is circulating on WhatsApp and Twitter with an ANI watermark. No such letter exists. This is fake.
— ANI (@ANI) April 14, 2019
As a matter of fact, on 9 April, BJP president Amit Shah met with Joshi and reportedly had a conversation in a congenial atmosphere. After the party leadership made this courtesy call, such an angry response was not expected from Joshi. It turns out he actually did not write this letter.
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