regular-article-logo Tuesday, 30 May 2023

Congress calls out Team Jorge ‘mirror image’

Party’s social media head Supriya Shrinate slams tactic to defame Rahul Gandhi

Sanjay K. Jha New Delhi Published 17.02.23, 04:06 AM
Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi File Photo

A Muslim man beheads a Hindu tailor in the Rajasthan city of Udaipur, triggering national outrage. A doctored video appears instantly, suggesting Rahul Gandhi had sought forgiveness for the killer on the ground that children commit mistakes.

A fresh wave of outrage erupts, threatening to blot the Congress leader’s image. Rahul had made the comment about children and mistakes in the context of members of CPM student arm SFI ransacking his office in his constituency Wayanad in Kerala. However, the claim in the doctored video was propped up by sections of the media and was widely disseminated by the RSS-BJP ecosystem on social media.


Congress social media head Supriya Shrinate on Thursday said this tactic to defame Rahul appeared to be the “mirror image” of the disinformation campaign an Israeli firm has been accused of conducting globally.

Shrinate was referring to the allegation by an international consortium of journalists about an Israeli firm, “Team Jorge”, offering to run disinformation campaigns on behalf of clients to influence elections across the world. Footprints of its operations have been found in India as well, according to reports.

Team Jorge allegedly sold hacking services and access to a vast army of fake social media profiles to influence opinion on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Telegram, Gmail, Instagram and YouTube.

The media consortium, which included Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, claims to have unearthed the purported racket in an undercover operation that stretched over eight months.

The alleged mastermind, ex-serviceman Tal Hanan, has denied any wrongdoing.

According to reports, the Israeli company claimed to have influenced 33 elections so far, and had links with British firm Cambridge Analytica, accused of involvement in manipulating elections in several countries using social media platforms.

Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said: “The government screams about foreign conspiracy when the BBC makes a documentary (questioning Narendra Modi’s role during the 2002 Gujarat riots), or a report questions the financial dealings of a company (the Adani group).But it has no shame in hiring a foreign agency to manipulate elections.

“India is passing through a dangerous phase. Our democracy is indeed in peril. This government is conspiring against India in connivance with foreign agencies. Now we understand why (Israeli software) Pegasus was used to hack phones of Indians and how Rahul Gandhi’s image was destroyed.”

Shrinate said: “Now we understand why the government didn’t want the Pegasus issue to be investigated. Why is the Modi government silent on this exposé? Do you intend to announce a Supreme Court-monitored inquiry into this organised crime?

“We are not only relying on the report published in The Guardian. We have seen a pattern in India. The modus operandi of the BJP IT cell is a mirror image of Team Jorge’s operation.”

She cited a few examples. Rahul had met a student leader from Kerala, Miva Jolly, during the Bharat Jodo Yatra. The BJP ecosystem launched a campaign alleging Rahul had met Amulya Leona, accused of shouting “Pakistan zindabad” at an event held by AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi.

This was aimed at lending credence to the BJP campaign that Rahul was leading a “Bharat Todo Yatra”. Several senior BJP leaders shared the post, prompting the Congress to take legal action.

Rahul accuses the BJP of spending thousands of crores to hurt his image. To support its narrative about Rahul being a “Pappu”, the BJP had extensively used a doctored video that showed the Congress saying that potatoes can be turned into gold. The Congress countered the propaganda by posting the full video, and independent fact-checkers too confirmed that Rahul was recalling an unfulfilled promise Modi had made to farmers.

A diet of distorted history and other malicious content to malign the Nehru-Gandhi family is supplied daily on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter. Many Indians have wrongly been persuaded that Jawaharlal Nehru was a Muslim — by propagandists to whom being a Muslim amounts to a disqualification.

Citing The Guardian report, the Congress said: “Shockingly, Team Jorge has now been linked with spreading misinformation campaigns which were being investigated by Gauri Lankesh — the journalist and social activist who was brutally shot dead by Hindutva extremists....”

A statement issued by Khera and Shrinate said: “Is it not a fact that the Modi government and BJP run India’s biggest fake news factory? Is it not a fact that a giant chunk of the disinformation is created and highlighted by an ecosystem close to the ruling BJP?

“Is it not a fact that the BJP used Cambridge Analytica to influence the 2014 Lok Sabha elections through spreading misinformation and data theft on social media platforms?”

Follow us on: