Morphed news report shared to claim TDP and Congress struck a deal ahead of Telangana elections

By: Rohith Gutta
November 22 2023

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Morphed news report shared to claim TDP and Congress struck a deal ahead of Telangana elections

Screenshots of social media posts sharing the fake news report.(Source: Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict Fake

Telugu newspaper Disha did not carry such a report. The outlet has clarified that the viral newspaper article is fake.

Claim ID 863ef365

What is the claim?

Ahead of the assembly elections in the South Indian state of Telangana, which is scheduled to go to polls on November 30, an image of an article purportedly published by the Telugu newspaper Disha is going viral on Facebook. The headline of this article in the image reads, “Revanth Reddy met Chandrababu at midnight? (translated from Telugu).” The text under the headline reads, “Merging of Telangana was the main discussion point between them? (translated).” The purported article states that “Chandrababu offered suggestions and funds for Congress for the Telangana elections. In return, he put a condition that Telangana be merged with Andhra Pradesh and that Revanth Reddy agreed to this proposition. Senior leaders of Congress and the Telangana movement are angry over this meeting.” Archived versions of posts sharing the article’s image can be viewed here, here, and here

Chandrababu Naidu is the National President of Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the main opposition party in Andhra Pradesh, which also has a presence in Telangana and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. TDP has decided not to contest in the upcoming Telangana elections. 

The state of Telangana, where Congress is currently the main opposition party, was formed in 2014 after a long movement for a separate statehood from the composite state of Andhra Pradesh. Revanth Reddy is the president of the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC).

Screenshot of a post on social media with the purported news report. (Source: Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)

What did we find?

Using relevant keywords, we first looked for news reports published by Disha regarding the purported secret meeting. However, we did not find any such news story.

We then examined the smaller text above the banner headline in the viral image. Two incomplete lines ran across two columns and read, “....they are not listening. They are adamant that they will stay in the fray,” and “displaced people of the Sagar project and unemployed…” We inferred that these lines possibly referred to Telangana’s Mallannasagar Storage Reservoir Project (also commonly known as the Sagar project) and the contestants in the upcoming polls. We can also see a beige-colored inset box next to these incomplete lines. 

The viral image also contains some lines from an article possibly published above the one seen in the image (Source: Facebook/Screenshot)

We checked if Disha published any news articles about displaced people of the Sagar project and unemployed persons contesting the elections. We came across a news report published on November 15, which included the incomplete lines seen above the purported viral article. This news article was published on the third page of the newspaper’s print edition. We could also spot the same beige inset box seen in the viral image.

The November 15 article in Disha was headlined, “KCR is worried.” The sub-heading reads, “The chief is facing troubles in Gajwel and Kamareddy.” KCR refers to K Chandrasekhar Rao, the chief of Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and the incumbent chief minister of Telangana. Gajwel and Kamareddy are the constituencies he is contesting from for the upcoming elections. The article talks about how the people displaced by the Sagar project, some of them unemployed, are contesting against KCR in Gajwel, creating issues for the BRS leader in the polls.

 The November 15 edition with the KCR article. (Source: Disha E-Paper/Screenshot)

In the viral image, we can see the purported article right below the KCR article. However, in the November 15 edition, there is no such article, and two other unrelated news articles were published under the KCR-is-worried article.

We also reviewed daily editions of the newspaper from November 15, when the claim started circulating. We did not find any report of the purported secret meeting between leaders from rival parties.

Disha also published two clarificatory reports on November 16. While one was published in their TS-Dynamic edition, the other was published in the Telangana edition. The title of both these articles read, “Fake clippings in social media in the name of Disha.” These reports said that the newspaper never published the article in question shared in the viral image and that the purported news story was part of a conspiracy to tarnish the outlet’s reputation. They said they have also complained to the Cyber Crime police about the fake news article.

No news reports of any secretive meeting and deal between Revanth Reddy and Chandrababu Naidu have been published by other news organizations either.

The verdict

A fake clip from Disha newspaper is shared to claim that Revanth Reddy and Chandrababu Naidu stuck a secret deal ahead of the Telangana elections. Therefore, we have marked this claim as fake.

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