Lok Sabha Election 2019 Fact-checker:
Claim: Pakistani flag was waved at Rahul Gandhi's rally in Wayanad; Congress had warned IUML against waving its flag during Rahul' rally
Fact: FALSE. Though the contents of the video were not morphed or tampered with, captions and comments claiming that it was the Pakistani flag are untrue as the flag seen in the video is of Kerala based political party Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) which bears similarities with the national flag of the neighbouring nation. Also, both Congress and IUML had denied discussing any warning given against the use of the latter's flag during the rally.
As Congress president Rahul Gandhi reached Wayanad to file his nomination, a large crowd of supporters gathered to cheer him. Rahul also conducted a roadshow in the constituency he has chosen to be his second seat in the upcoming Lok Sabha election, apart from Amethi. Soon after his rally, videos showing the presence of "Pakistani flag" at the Congress event started doing rounds of social media. The Congress' official handle also tweeted a video of Rahul's public interaction in the Kerala district in which similar flags can be seen.
— Congress (@INCIndia) April 4, 2019
However, it has turned that the flags waved were not those of Pakistan but of Kerala-based Muslim party IUML. IUML is one of the six parties in the United Democratic Front alliance, which includes the Congress party. IUML flags were previously also falsely shared as Islamic flags waved by Congress supporters over reports of Rahul Gandhi contesting the election on the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat.
Earlier, a similar claim was shared about Congress rallies in Karnataka and Rajasthan and in 2018, ahead of the Karnataka Assembly election — which was debunked by AltNews.
Also, similar claims were made of Pakistani flags being used during rallies of Congress leader Ashok Gehlot which were debunked by online fact-checking websites. There were also reports of a similar Muslim group's flag being hoisted in Kolkata in celebration of the newly-elected mayor, which was widely criticised for the use of the Pakistani flag but was later found to be false.
In fact, even before Rahul reached Wayanad there were reports that the Congress has warned IUML against waving its flag during his rally to avoid confusion in 'North India'. Organiser had claimed that IUML had been asked by the Congress not to wave its green flags at the rally as it could "backfire in North India. The report quoted a WhatsApp chat purportedly between Congress volunteers and IUML workers.
According to the Organiser report, the chat read, "Muslim League friends are our dear ones. Rahul Gandhi will be coming to Wayanad soon. There is no doubt that the green flag (Muslim League’s official flag) is our pride. But in ‘North India’, this flag will be understood in another way. So I request our Muslim League workers to stay away from the rally, even if you come, then please don’t carry your flags." The report and the chat were shared widely by many on social media, including BJP IT Cell chief Amit Malviya.
However, the Quint reported that both IUML and Kerala Congress had denied these reports refuting their veracity. Meanwhile, Prafulla Kelkar, editor at Organiser, tweeted in response to The Quint's report, that the organisation stood by their source, who had sent them the screenshot of the WhatsApp chat.
Outlook also quoted a Muslim League leader as saying: “Muslim League is the deciding factor in the constituency. In 2014, the Congress candidate won because of the votes garnered from three districts, where IUML has an upper hand,” putting to rest the controversy surrounding the use of the regional party's flag.
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Updated Date: Apr 05, 2019 13:47:26 IST