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Feb 14, 2019

When Narendra Modi Was Fact-Checked By the Sangh Parivar

Modi says in an undated speech that he took out a yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir – a yatra that was actually Murli Manohar Joshi's.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi loves claiming firsts, but he may not be too pleased about this one. For the first time ever, Modi has been fact-checked by his own irate parivar.

Modi had said in an undated speech – a video of which is now being freshly circulated on social media with the hashtag iSupportNamo – that he took out a yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, and unfurled the national tricolour in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk. In his narrative, Modi speaks as if he went there alone in defiance of terrorist diktats, unfurled the flag himself and came back unharmed.

However, the actual facts are somewhat different. The ‘Ekta Yatra’ was conducted by – and is associated with – the then president of the Bharatiya Janata Party Murli Manohar Joshi from December 11, 1991. Joshi followed the same route that Modi claimed to take, and unfurled the flag surrounded by army security in Lal Chowk on January 26, 1992.

Modi’s claim is akin to the late Pramod Mahajan claiming that he had taken out the Ayodhya Rath Yatra carried out by L.K. Advani, which started in October 1990 as a means of whipping up communal sentiment in favour of the BJP’s Ramjanmabhoomi campaign.

The truth is that Modi was one of several full-time BJP workers who accompanied Joshi on the yatra. In his speech, though, Modi does not even mention Joshi’s presence, let alone leadership. Instead, he appears to claim full credit for the yatra, dramatically declaring that he had gone without a “bulletproof jacket” and with only the “tiranga (tricolour)” in his hands.

Sources in the Sangh parivar say that Modi’s flight of fantasy has attracted an angry response from the original “yatri”, Joshi.

The former BJP chief has sent Modi’s video to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat and asked him to check why the prime minister is “indulging in fantasy” and effectively re-writing the BJP’s own history, sources said. It is a different matter that this is the same Joshi who was accused of rewriting India’s history when he was human resource development minister during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

Sources say that Joshi was sent the Modi video by a party worker last week, and was flabbergasted when he saw it.

The speech which has so infuriated Joshi has been shared by various BJP and Modi supporters on social media.

Bhagwat, the sources say, is quite upset about Modi’s claim and has assured Joshi that all such videos will be deleted.

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