Facebook posts target India’s Rahul Gandhi with edited ‘maths gaffe’ video

As India geared up for elections that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is expected to dominate, an edited video of opposition leader Rahul Gandhi surfaced in social media posts mocking him for apparently failing to correctly add together two numbers. The video omits the politician saying “eight” so it appears he is giving the sum of 50 and 15 as 73. The original video shows Gandhi was discussing various caste groups and the percentage of India’s population they represent before correctly adding together the total.

The altered video was shared in a Facebook post on February 10, 2024.

Its Kannada-language caption reads: “50 + 15 = 73 is the correct answer, I knew after the chief told me…”

The video, which has more than 7,000 views, appears to show Gandhi saying in Hindi: “What is the total of 50 plus 15? It’s 73.”

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, captured on February 16, 2024

The edited video was also shared elsewhere on Facebook here and here.

It circulated ahead of nationwide elections to be held in April, which will see an opposition alliance that includes Gandhi’s Congress party battle the electoral juggernaut of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s BJP.

The BJP is heavily favoured to win a third successive landslide victory, in part because of Modi’s muscular and nationalistic appeals to India’s Hindu majority.

Modi has revelled in casting his chief opponent, dubbed an “empty suit” in leaked US embassy cables from 2005, as an out-of-touch princeling more interested in luxury and self-indulgence than fighting to helm the world’s biggest democracy.

Edited video

A keyword search on Google found the original video posted on the Congress party’s Facebook page on February 8, 2024 (archived link).

The portion used in the edited video starts at the 2:38 mark.

According to the Facebook post, it shows him speaking in the eastern Indian state of Odisha during the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, which local media said was aimed at whipping up support ahead of the election (archived link).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the edited video shared on Facebook (left) and the original video (right):

<span>Screenshot comparison of the edited video shared on Facebook (left) and the original video (right)</span>

Screenshot comparison of the edited video shared on Facebook (left) and the original video (right)

In the original video, Gandhi recalls a journalist asking him if the introduction of a caste census would worsen divisions in Indian society.

Opposition parties are pressuring the government to carry out a nationwide survey of lower castes in India to help improve their representation in politics (archived link).

“I told him that at least 50 percent of people belong to backward classes, 15 percent are Dalits, 8 percent are Adivasis. What is the total of 50, 15 and 8? It’s 73,” he says.

India’s centuries-old caste system divides people into four main castes starting with the priestly Brahmins and ending with the Dalits, formerly known as “untouchables”.

India’s indigenous tribal communities, collectively known as Adivasis, along with those at the bottom rungs of  the rigid caste hierarchy have been subjected to violence, prejudice and discrimination for centuries.

AFP has previously debunked misinformation targeting the opposition leader here, here, here and here.

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