Congress Toolkit: An attempt to tarnish Modi’s Image?

Published : May 22, 2021 10:36 am | By: M D Sridharan

BJP accuses Congress of using 'toolkit' to destroy PM Modi's image amid second wave. Congress says it’s fake and the political war is on.

The BJP has accused the Congress party of creating a 'toolkit' that aims to tarnish the image of the country and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The BJP  released a “toolkit” allegedly created by the Congress to tarnish Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Centre over the handling of the Covid pandemic.

The toolkit purportedly developed by the Congress has clear instructions for its followers to track requests for help by people on Covid, contacting them, and asking them to tag the IYC (Indian Youth Congress) handle and its leaders, apart from media professionals and other influencers. The document also urges campaigners to use phrases like “Indian strain” whenever talking of the new mutant, and says social media volunteers may call it “Modi strain”, as well as push phrases like “Missing Amit Shah”, “Quarantined Jaishankar”, “Sidelined Rajnath Singh”, “Insensitive Nirmala Sitharaman” etc

The “toolkit” laid out instructions on how to “destroy Modi’s image and erode his popularity” and advised that the new corona virus mutant be dubbed the “India strain” or “Modi strain” and to name  Kumbhmela a super spreader event.

BJP’s spokesperson Sambit Patra said: "Disgusting to say the least Rahul Gandhi wants to use this opportunity of pandemic to destroy the image of Prime Minister Modi. He shared a document seemingly printed on the letterhead of the ‘AICC Research Department’.  A number of BJP leaders, including some ministers attacked the Congress attaching hashtag ‘CongressToolKitExposed’. BJP President, J P  Nadda said the Congress was a “master” at “dividing society and spewing venom”, adding, “India is seeing Congress’ antics, while the nation is fighting Covid-19. I would urge Congress to go beyond ‘Toolkit Models’ and do something constructive.” BJP accused the Congress of “spreading fake, negative news and stirring up discontent” amidst the pandemic crisis, calling this “disgusting”. With his tweet, he attached two pages of a document purportedly on a Congress letterhead with instructions saying this is “an opportunity to destroy his image and erode his popularity” as the “approval ratings of Prime Minister Modi have been high and have not dipped despite crisis and mismanagement.”

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said that the Congress toolkit highlights how the party wants to strengthen itself using the pandemic.The toolkit clearly exposed the intentions and the attempts to spread misinformation by the Congress. He said that the grand old party attempted to tarnish PM Modi's image using various methods.  Patra claimed that Congress has asked its workers to call the Kumbhmela a super spreader event and instructed them not to share the images of crowded Eid markets and celebrations on social media platforms. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that the new strain of the corona virus would not be named after India, but the Congress wants to do so. He further alleged that the toolkit brought focus on the ongoing Central Vista Project. He added that the tool kit had mentioned Central Vista as a 'vanity project'. The opposition party is ready to tarnish the country's image for its politics, Patra added.

Quoting the Congress' toolkit, Patra further said, "There is a column 'Prime Minister Modi's image'. It says that the approval rating of Prime Minister Modi has been high and has not dipped despite the crisis and mismanagement. This is an opportunity to destroy his image and erode his popularity." Patra said that the Congress has admitted that the Prime Minister has managed to handle the crisis but it sees an opportunity in the prevailing situation to erode his popularity. The BJP leader further alleged that no stone has been left unturned to tarnish India's image with the help of foreign journalists. "Use resources created on social media to question PM Modi’s incompetence from handles which look like Modi or BJP supporters. Roping in foreign publications is mentioned. This kind of a web is being spun. We are seeing this happen in international media. Now we know the Congress party and Rahul Gandhi are behind it," he said. ."My heart aches to see that the Congress is using the deceased for its toolkit. It is urging volunteers to use dependable words for Modi so that it becomes acceptable," he said."Instead of fighting corona, looking at ways to help patients, they are building a toolkit to demean the nation. They want 'Indian strain' to be used in articles. This has shown the true face of the Congress party. It is the same design that Rahul Gandhi follows to tweet," he added.

BJP leaders react to 'toolkit"

Several BJP leaders react6ed sharply to the “toolkit”.  Reacting to the Congress 'toolkit', JP Nadda, BJP President,  said that Congress is a master when it comes to dividing society and spewing venom against others. Hitting out at the Congress, he said, "I would urge Congress to go beyond 'toolkit models' and do something constructive."

Besides JP Nadda, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal accused Congress of diving India and attempting to fracture the Indian social fabric with communal hatred. Taking to Twitter, the Union Minister said that it is very disgraceful to see the Congress party and its leaders engaging in political deception to mislead citizens and create roadblocks for the Nation. Smriti Irani tweeted, “My country, our country is at war with a virus… to singularly commercialise it as a political opportunity & deal in death; I never imagined Congress was capable of such a low.”

 BJP IT Cell Head Amit Malviya said that it is shocking to see how Congress 'toolkit' speaks about using spends for hire in media and academia to build a narrative that is politically expedient and use the judiciary to impede critical projects and narratives. 

While stating that every line in that Congress 'toolkit' reeks hate for India and Hindus in this country, Amit Malviya said that it is important to keep using this term "super speaker Kumbh" to keep reminding the people that it is the Hindu politics of BJP that is causing so much distress. The BJP leader also said that the Congress 'toolkit' targets indigenous vaccine, critical infrastructure projects that would generate jobs. 

Asking why Congress finds it difficult to digest the idea of United India, Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said that the suffering of the patients and the number of the dead are only a means of doing politics for the Congress. Taking a jibe at the Congress, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that at a time when India is fighting the virus unitedly, the Opposition is bringing in selective communal components by blaming Kumbh Mela & not talking of lakhs joining the funeral of a Muslim cleric in Badayun.

Meanwhile, Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi also slammed the opposition and said, "COVID kept us busy in safeguarding ourselves and loves ones." While stating that the government has been working on improving healthcare infrastructure and trying up with other countries on synergistic coordination, the Union Minister said that this 'toolkit' is a revelation of the nefarious intentions even during the pandemic. 

BJP Yuva Morcha national president Tejasvi Surya took to Twitter and said that Congress has mastered the art of political vulturism. He said, "For their politics to flourish, they want India to suffer and bleed." In Bharat's defeat, they seek their political revival, Surya added. 

BJP leader Shandilya Giriraj Singh said that India's misfortune is that the soul of the main Opposition party Congress is dead and just the body is above. He further said, "The corona patient who did not worship the Congress was left to die. The Congress kept on celebrating the burning corpses in the crematorium but did not come forward for help."

BJP also revealed that the tool kit was authored by Saumya Varma, who is connected  with Congress MP Rajeev Gowda,  head of  the research wing of the AICC.

Congress files complaint

The complaint on behalf of the Congress was filed by AICC research department head Rajeev Gowda and social media department head Rohan Gupta. It accused BJP leaders of “forging the letterhead of AICC Research Department and thereafter printing false and fabricated content on the same with the intent to create communal disharmony and civil unrest in the country, escalating violence, fuelling hate and spreading fake news”. It also said the BJP was trying to divert attention from the failures of the government. “What these people have done is fraud and forgery,” Gowda said.

The opposition party alleged on its Twitter handle that instead of helping people during the COVID-19 pandemic, the BJP is stooping to low-level politics.“BJP is propagating a fake ‘toolkit’ on ‘COVID-19 mismanagement’ and attributing it to AICC Research Department. We are filing an FIR for forgery against JP Nadda and Sambit Patra," Congress’ research cell head Rajeev Gowda said on Twitter. “When our country is devastated by COVID, instead of providing relief, BJP shamelessly concocts forgeries," he also alleged.

Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate claimed that there is no such document as shown by the BJP spokesperson and the party was initiating legal action.

The party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “Soon after the BJP forged the ‘fake toolkit’, all its ‘fake devotees’ and ‘friends in the media’ came out to set the agenda." “We are going to file a case against BJP President JP Nadda and his spokespersons, but the truth about their misdeeds will not be left hidden," he said. Shrinate alleged that the government’s priorities are misplaced as it was resorting to such “tactics" instead of helping the COVID affected. “We never expected that the national spokesperson of the BJP would resort to such blatant lies," she said.

Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera,  said, “There are two ways of addressing questions and criticisms… respond to questions and criticisms, correct where you are wrong, and move on. The second way is the BJP toolkit way, which is to attack those who are questioning you… but to not respond to the questions.”

Twitter flags BJP Tweet

Sambit Patra’s tweet  that contains screenshots of a purported Congress ‘toolkit’ to corner Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his handling of the pandemic has been flagged as “manipulated media” by Twitter. The decision to flag Patra’s tweet came evening after the Congress complained to Twitter that the ensemble of pages, circulated as the party’s ‘toolkit’ by top BJP leaders, was fake.

Twitter’s decision to officially flag Patra’s tweet as “manipulated media” is being considered a major victory by Congress leaders. Twitter tagging Patra’s tweet as “manipulated” is being seen as a setback for the party, which has already been facing widespread criticism over its handling of the pandemic.

But, the BJP government at the centre has objected to twitter labelling Sambit Patra’s tweet as  “manipulated media”. The Ministry of Electronics and IT has written a strong communication to the global team of Twitter, registering its objection to the use of ‘manipulated media’ tag. The ministry of Electronics and IT has further notified Twitter that a complaint has already been made by a concerned party before the local law enforcement agency questioning the veracity of the toolkit and the same was under investigation. While the investigation is underway, Twitter has unilaterally drawn a conclusion in this matter and arbitrarily tagged it as ‘manipulated media’,

Political  Controversies

Controversies between BJP and Congress are not a new.   Looking back ever since Modi became a national leader, the grand old party is after him. It is not new that Congress continues to target Modi.

 When everyone praised his governance in Gujrat as a role model, Congress was terribly upset over the accolades. During 2014 elections Sonia Gandhi made a scathing attack on Modi and called him  the "maut ka saudagar", blaming him for the Godhra incident.

During 2019 elections the then Congress President Rahul Gandhi refering Rafale deal repeatedly  accused Modi with 'chowkidar chor hai' remarks. 

Having lost consecutively two elections and also the coveted “opposition party”, today Congress party has been relegated to the level of a regional parties. Moreover, the Gandhis who once reined supreme, could not even command the same respect within the party as dissident voices are growing day by day.

But, now  the influence of social media has become weapons of   mass destruction and political parties are conveniently using social media to reach their goals that is to destroy the image of their political opponents without any conviction.

Using social media to settle scores over political opponents is accepted in normal times. But, in the current scenario when the whole world is battling the deadly Corona virus, politicising religion and using Kumbhmel as the  ‘super spreader’ and target “PMCARES Funds”  aggressively, will only lower the image of the nation as a whole and not the leader the toolkit has intended to defame. It only reflects the criminal intent of the Congressr playing with the emotions of already distressed people.

 

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