Politifact is US based web-magazine that fact-checks the utterances of key politicians and public figures. It also has a ‘Truth-O-Meter’ that measures the truthfulness or falsehood of the statements made by such public figures. If you haven’t given it a look earlier I encourage you to do so. The Truth-O-Meter is a registered trademark but this once I will use their meter for my favourite politician – Rahul Gandhi. It is safe to say Rahul Gandhi came into his own at Bhatta-Parsaul with his ‘mounds of ashes and dead bodies’. Since then he has been going from strength to strength; with his game-changer (as he himself humbly called it) speech in August in the parliament and since November 14 has been on a roll. Some image-specialist must have advised RG to turn his voice into a growl and behave like the angry young man. And the Indian media loves that. The slavish media also reports and telecasts his every speech and utterance but doesn’t find the time to fact-check all that RG says. So let’s look at a few of the prince’s profound statements as well as by the media.
Indian Express (Dec 17) “Four days into his mass contact programme, Rahul Gandhi’s speeches may be becoming repetitive, but his public meetings are drawing huge crowds in this Mulayam Singh Yadav stronghold.” Hmm! Considering that the live telecasts hardly showed these ‘huge’ crowds this is hard to believe and in the absence of any image as evidence has to go down as not exactly accurate.
Indian Express (Dec 17) RG Quote: “How many of you go to Mumbai and Delhi to work? Do you find development there? How many of you have mobile phones? Do you know who brought mobile technology to India?” People go to work to a lot of places but what is this about mobile phones? RG asks the question but leaves the answer to the imagination of his audience. Well, the mobile phone technology first came into India around 1995 during Narasimha Rao’s govt. Of course, crediting Rao for anything is a Congress crime. Still, mobiles got fully introduced only in 1996 during the subsequent govt of Deve Gowda.
Computers: RG: “In 1980 Rajiv Gandhi talked about computers and people are benefited today. Until and unless leaders think long-term UP cannot progress..” This one has to be an extra-ordinary nonsense that passed without a question. Congress returned to power in 1980 after the Janata Party and Rajiv Gandhi wasn’t even very active at that time. He became active only after the death of Sanjay Gandhi in June 1980. Also, computers as we know it became popular only after IBM introduced the PC in August 1981 although personal home computers existed since mid-70s.
Expressbuzz: On the fourth day of his five-day mass contact programme here, Rahul said "farmers are facing problems as 60 per cent of vegetables go waste.. we brought FDI in retail so that they could sell their produce directly". 60% ? It is true that vegetable-produce goes to waste for many reason but there is no authentic document to prove the 60% claim. There are some reports that quote 30-40% wastage but this 60% waste claim is clearly a figment of imagination. But I doubt any villager is going to ask RG!
"A packet of chips is made from just half a potato," he added, virtually turning the opposition to FDI into a conspiracy against farmers." Hahaha! Obviously, Rahul Gandhi has never been in the kitchen trying to make chips. Oh and potatoes come in different sizes so even if one takes the average Indian potato this is simply a ‘chip from the old block’ of Congress jokes.
Rahul dubbed the anti-FDI position of Congess's rivals - ranging from SP, BSP to BJP - as a betrayal of farmers, while pitching FDI in retail as a panacea to farmers of this region, known as the 'potato belt' of UP. Well, if the FDI in retail policy had to be shelved for the present it is more because of Congress’ allies and not because of the opposition but one can pass this off as election rhetoric.
Potatoes: And finally, RG says the market price of potatoes is Rs.2/- per kilogram but a packet of chips sells at Rs.10/- His inference is that FDI in retail would have got the farmers a much better deal. Well, he doesn’t tell us the weight of the potato chip packet but never mind. What the brilliant RG misses is that there is already 100% FDI in the potato chips business. Pepsi, being the largest seller is something that the villagers or the media is not going to question RG about.
So there you go, if the media were to carefully analyse the utterances of Rahul Gandhi, as also other politicians, they will realise much of these are mere nonsensical statements with no real substance in them. The “elephant in Lucknow eats your money” maybe somewhat true and entertaining but that’s just about it. And that elephant in comparison is much smaller than the dinosaur at the centre.
Note: The ‘Truth-O-Meter’ from Politifact is used only for demonstrative and educational purposes.