Just before the final phase of polling in Chhattisgarh that concluded on Tuesday, a purported letter leaking the so-called Congress “plans” created a political commotion in the state.
According to the letter that is doing the rounds on social media, the Congress was planning to dilute the benefits of loan waiver to farmers if it comes to power. The letter is said to be the “leaked internal communication” of the Congress office bearers. However, the letter in circulation contradicts what the Congress has been promising on farm loan waivers at its public rallies.
Farmers’ loan waiver remained one of the biggest political issues in the state during elections. Every political party cashed in on the issue to woo voters. According to a PTI report of November 17, Congress president Rahul Gandhi in his election rally in Chhattisgarh’s Koriya district promised that “if voted to power in the state, the Congress will waive off farm loans within 10 days and the money will come from the likes of Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Anil Ambani”. Hence, the viral letter goes completely against the promises made publicly by none other than the Congress chief himself.
India Today Fact Check team found the letter to be fake. There are evidences in the letter that prove so.
The letter was being shared by many on social media even as the polling was about to begin.
When we searched on Facebook keywords related to the content of the letter, we found several reactions over the issue.
To start with, we pointed out some glaring mistakes in the letter. First, it is not clear as to whom the letter is addressed. Second, it has been CC’ed to three people but the person to whom it has been addressed is missing.
The letter mentions six points about the farmers’ loan waiver but towards the end of the letter, it says the “following points” should be kept in mind when it should read ”the above points”. Errors like this in official letters of political parties are possible, but rare.
We contacted Shailesh Nitin Trivedi, general secretary of Chhattisgarh Congress Committee, on whose letter head the letter was written. He claimed that he has not used a letter pad for the last 36 years. He also pointed out many more mistakes in the letter.
Trivedi said the signature at the bottom of the letter is not his. He said the signature matched with the signature of Girish Dewangan, another office bearer of Chhattisgarh Congress. We found this to be true as the signature in the fake letter matched with Dewangan’s signature and there was no semblance to Tiwari’s signature. Signature of both Tiwari and Dewangan can be seen in this police complaint that they made regarding the fake letter.
Tiwari’s address on the letter pad is also wrong. The address in the letter mentions “Kharora” village, Raipur”. Trivedi told us that his village is not Kharora but Pahanda. Kharora is in fact the village from where Dewangan comes.
The letter also mentions one ‘Chhattisgarh Congress Samiti’. However, the correct name of the Chhattisgarh unit of the Congress party is Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee.
Trivedi also holds the post of president of the communication department of Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee. Strangely, the letter has been CC’ed (in writing) to the president of the communication department. That means Trivedi must have marked a copy of the letter to himself. It is unlikely that the head of the communication department of a major political party will do something like this.
The Chhattisgarh Congress has filed a police complaint regarding the fake letter. The complaint alleges that this fake letter is being circulated from a WhatsApp group being operated with phone No. 6261995046. We tried to contact this number repeatedly but it was switched off. The complaint also talks about the role of a Facebook page, ‘Bhupesh Baghel for CM’. According to Trivedi, this Facebook page is also fake and has been created to malign the image of Congress leader Bhupesh Baghel. We found that many Facebook pages with similar names have now been deleted.
All these evidences clearly indicate that the letter is fake, and the people behind the letter are trying to cover their tracks.