Posts showing Virat Kohli praising Rahul Gandhi after Congress win in Karnataka are fabricated

By: Ishita Goel
May 16 2023

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Posts showing Virat Kohli praising Rahul Gandhi after Congress win in Karnataka are fabricated


The Verdict False

Edited screenshots from Kohli's Instagram stories were shared with the false narrative that he praised Rahul Gandhi after Congress's win in Karnataka.

Claim ID 85384347

The Indian National Congress (INC) won the Karnakata Assembly election last week, winning 135 seats as opposed to the Bharatiya Janata Party's 66. Following the announcement of the results on May 13, 2023, social media saw a surge in posts that included false and misleading narratives related to the polls. Some social media users shared screenshots of Instagram stories by Indian cricketer Virat Kohli, claiming he shared images of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and praised him after the latter’s party won the elections. The images alleged that Kohli wrote "The man, the myth, the leader @rahulgandhi" in one Instagram story with a photo of Gandhi sitting, and "E sala government namde @rahulgandhi" in another which shows Gandhi standing on a podium. The second caption translates to “This time we will form the government.”

However, these screenshots of Instagram stories allegedly posted by Kohli are morphed. No evidence supports the claim that he praised or congratulated Rahul Gandhi on social media. These images were also shared by the popular parody Twitter account ‘Dr. Nimo Yadav’ (twitter handle -@niiravmodi), but many users were quick to believe the false narrative.

In Fact
We noted several discrepancies in the first screenshot, which shows Rahul Gandhi sitting with a microphone in hand and smiling.

We compared a screenshot of an Instagram post available on Kohli's official Twitter account to the viral image and noted that the font of 'L' of 'Kohli' is very different. Screenshots taken from both Apple and Android phones show that the lowercase 'L' shows no outward curl, as seen in the viral post. Further, the position of the Instagram verification badge is different. Screenshots taken of Kohli's story by us show that the badge is in line with the name. However, in the viral image, the alignment of the badge is incorrect. Further, if Kohli had posted an Instagram story congratulating Gandhi on the Congress win, news reports would have documented this. However, we found no news reports reporting on the alleged matter. All the evidence shows that the screenshot is fabricated, and Kohli didn't post the story.

The second screenshot where Gandhi is standing has a time stamp of shared '5 mins ago', and many posts carried this image on May 13. A blue cloth can be seen in the background of Gandhi's photo, just below the Congress symbol, the hand. We found that this screenshot has been created by editing an actual Instagram story by Kolhi.

On May 12, Kohli shared a story praising Suryakumar Yadav for hitting his first century in his Indian Premier League (IPL) career. Kohli shared a photo of Yadav in the blue Mumbai Indians IPL team uniform and wrote, "Tula Maanla bhau @surya_14kumar." Media outlet RVCJ Media uploaded a screenshot of Kohli's story on Instagram on May 12 and captioned it: "Virat Kohli praises Suryakumar Yadav." In the image, the time stamp showed shared '2 mins ago', indicating that Kohli had posted this Instagram story on May 12, not May 13, when the counting for Karnataka polls was still undergoing. Further, the blue team uniform worn by Yadav in the photo is the blue t-shirt that can be seen in the background of Gandhi's image, making it clear that Kohli's story from May 12 was digitally manipulated to claim he posted a congratulatory message to Rahul Gandhi on May 13. Further, after extensive research, we found no evidence that Kohli supported the Congress party in the Karnataka election. The sportsperson had always shied away from expressing his political views on record.

The Verdict
Both the viral screenshots are edited. While one screenshot circulating is wholly fabricated, an Instagram story in which Kohli praised fellow cricketer Suryakumar Yadav on May 12 has been edited and shared widely to claim he praised Gandhi. Therefore, we mark this claim.

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