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Pro-BJP pages target India’s Siddaramaiah with edited ‘Muslim rebirth’ video

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As India geared up for elections, an edited video surfaced online appearing to show opposition politician Siddaramaiah, who goes by one name, saying he wanted to be reborn a Muslim. The video was widely shared by supporters of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). However, the original footage in fact shows Siddaramaiah referring to another politician — not himself.

“Karnataka CM (chief minister) Siddaramaiah wants to be born as Muslim in his next birth,” reads a post on social media platform X that shared the edited video on March 12.

The post — which also includes an anti-Muslim slur — was shared by a pro-BJP account with more than 11,000 followers.

The short clip shows Siddaramaiah, chief minister of Karnataka state, where the opposition Congress party wrested power from the BJP in 2023.

He appears to say in the local Kannada language: “If I get a chance at rebirth, I wish to be born a Muslim”.

<span>Screenshot of the false post taken on March 13, 2024</span>

Screenshot of the false post taken on March 13, 2024

The post appears to play on Congress critics’ accusations that the party — which previously dominated the Indian political landscape — is pro-Muslim and anti-Hindu.

India is a Hindu majority country and Muslims make up around 15 percent of the population.

The edited video was shared by various pro-BJP accounts, including on Facebook and X here and here, as the world’s biggest democracy prepared to elect a new government in a month-and-a-half-long election starting April 19.

Clipped video

In the top-left corner of the edited video, the logo of local news outlet TV9 Kannada Digital is seen.

A keyword search on TV9 Kannada Digital’s YouTube channel found the original footage of Siddaramaiah speaking posted on March 10, 2024 (archived link).

The full video shows he was criticising a regional political party in Karnataka called Janata Dal (Secular) and its founder HD Deve Gowda — along with the BJP.

Speaking in Kannada, he says from the 18:30 timestamp: “Deve Gowda once said he would never align with the BJP because it is not a secular party” (archived link).

“He once said he wished to be born a Muslim in his next life. But that same Deve Gowda has now aligned with the BJP.”

Below is a screenshot comparison between the edited video (left) and TV9 Kannada Digital’s footage of Siddaramaiah speaking (right).

<span>Screenshot comparison of the edited video (left) and original footage (right)</span>

Screenshot comparison of the edited video (left) and original footage (right)

The part of the video where Siddaramaiah mentions Deve Gowda has been removed in the edited video shared on social media.

Siddaramaiah’s attack on Gowda was widely reported in Indian media, including the ANI news agency as well as The Hindu and Deccan Herald newspapers (archived links here, here and here).

AFP was unable to verify if Gowda genuinely said he wanted to be reborn as a Muslim.

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