False: Viral photo proves Rahul Gandhi met producer of the BBC documentary on PM Modi six months ago.

By: Ishita Goel
January 30 2023

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False: Viral photo proves Rahul Gandhi met producer of the BBC documentary on PM Modi six months ago.


The Verdict False

The image captures Gandhi with British politician Jeremy Corbyn and entrepreneur Sam Pitroda at a much-talked-about meeting in London in May 2022.

Claim ID 246f67d3


A two-part documentary series titled "India: The Modi Question" has been at the center of controversy in the country since its release by the BBC earlier this month. The Indian government has passed orders blocking the sharing of any clips on social media from the documentary that investigates Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots as the then chief minister of the western state. India’s external affairs ministry has criticized the series for being a "propaganda piece", and attempts by student organizations and political outfits to screen it have been largely met by resistance from the Indian authorities attracting condemnation from several opposition leaders and social activists. According to The Times of India, during a Bharat Jodo Yatra rally in Jammu and Kashmir, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said Modi "can't suppress the truth from coming out" in reference to the Union government blocking the controversial BBC film. 

Amid such political developments, several false and misleading narratives about the BBC film have flooded social media. A photo of Rahul Gandhi posing for a picture with two men has been shared as “proof” of a Congress-backed conspiracy behind the making of the documentary aimed at “instigating riots” in India. Several Twitter posts claim that the photo shows the former Congress president meeting the producer of the BBC documentary six months ago while visiting the United Kingdom, where Gandhi allegedly said, "Kerosene has been poured all over India, now it just needs a spark of fire."  

In Fact

The two men seen posing with Gandhi in the viral photo are British politician Jeremy Corbyn (center) and entrepreneur and Congress member Sam Pitroda (right). Using a reverse image search, we found that the image was taken in May 2022. On May 23, Indian Overseas Congress (IOC)—a wing of the Congress party that promotes its ideology outside India— had shared the image on its verified Twitter account with the caption: “Our chairman @sampitroda with @RahulGandhi in London.”

Several media outlets had also reported on Gandhi’s and Pitroda’s meeting with Corbyn. On May 24, Hindustan Times had shared the image with the caption: "(L-R)Rahul Gandhi with Jeremy Corbyn and Sam Pitroda. (Twitter)". According to a report by the news agency Press Trust of India, published by The Hindu on May 24, Gandhi had met Corbyn in London on May 23 and posed for a photo with the British politician and Pitroda. Incidentally, at the time, the meeting had triggered a row in India, with leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) criticizing Gandhi for meeting a leader with "anti-India" views. BJP leaders had alleged that Corbyn, who served as leader of the opposition and leader of the Labour Party from 2015 to 2020, had openly advocated the separation of Kashmir from India. As BJP leaders shared the photo of the meeting to ask if Gandhi endorsed Corbyn's alleged views, Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala hit back with a photo of Modi with the British politician, asking if the same could then be said of the PM.

Additionally, the BBC iPLAYER website credits Richard Cookson as the series producer and Mike Radford as the executive producer for the documentary on PM Modi. There is no mention of Corbyn as a producer of the BBC film or of his involvement in the film in any other capacity. 

All this makes it clear that the viral photo does not show Gandhi with a producer of the BBC documentary on Modi but with British politician Jeremy Corbyn. 

There is also no evidence to prove a link between the BBC documentary and the Congress party. No media reports mention Gandhi allegedly speaking of planning or instigating riots in the country or saying anything along the lines of needing a “spark of fire” during his U.K. visit. Several other fact-checking organizations have also debunked claims of a Congress connection to the BBC documentary.

The Verdict

The image shows Indian Overseas Congress chairman Sam Pitroda and British politician Jeremy Corbyn with Rahul Gandhi. There is no photographic evidence to prove that Gandhi met either of the producers of the BBC documentary on Modi. Therefore, we mark this claim false. 

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