Leftist fake news starts off in WhatsApp groups, is amplified by paid Twitter trends, and is finally mainstreamed by propagandist influencers.
Serial fake news spreader Dhruv Rathee has repeated the lie that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had once said that she didn’t care about onion prices because she didn’t eat them. “Once Nirmala Sitharaman was asked a question about rising onion prices,” Rathee says at 3:09 in his latest video. “In response, she said that she didn’t eat onions anyway,” he claimed.
This, of course, is a well-debunked lie. An India Today fact-check from 2019 had analysed the claim when it had first gone viral, and found it to be untrue. Nirmala Sitharaman had indeed said that she didn’t eat onions, but it wasn’t in response to a question on onion price rise. She’d instead said these lines when an MP had shouted out to her if she ate Egyptian onions.
This is how India Today described the exchange in Parliament:
On Wednesday the Finance Minister was interrupted while answering a question raised by the Congress MP Supriya Sule regarding the rising onion prices. After Supriya finished her question, another parliamentarian (who cannot be seen in the video clip) screamed and directed a question at the Finance Minister, ‘Do you eat Egyptian onions?’
Sitharaman in between answering to Supriya’s question responded to this parliamentarian and said, “I don’t eat onions, so don’t worry.”
Congress trolls, however, had taken out a selective clip from the video, and made it appear that Nirmala Sitharaman had said that she didn’t eat onions when questioned about their rise in prices. More than two years later, Dhruv Rathee has attempted to resurrect the same bit of fake news that was already proven to be false.
This is hardly the first time that Dhruv Rathee has been caught spreading fake news. During the West Bengal campaign, Rathee had tried spreading the fake news that Mamata Banerjee had stopped her campaign because of the rising Covid cases in the state, but it turned out that she had addressed several rallies after Rathee’s claim. A few months prior, Dhruv Rathee had spread the fake news that the UP government was spending Rs. 300 crore on the Ram Mandir, when it was later shown that the UP government was only building the road leading up to the Mandir. Most egregiously, Dhruv Rathee, in a apparent bid to vilify Diwali, had spread the fake news that MP Rita Bahuguna’s granddaughter had died from firecracker burns, when the MP herself had clarified that her granddaugher’s death had nothing to do with crackers. And with Dhruv Rathee now spreading fake news that was debunked two years ago, he still appears to be steadfast in his mission to spread as many canards about the government as possible.