Video shows attack on Indian politician Hardik Patel in 2019, before he joined BJP

·2 min read

A video of a man slapping Indian politician Hardik Patel has been viewed thousands of times in social media posts that claim it happened when Patel left the main opposition Congress party for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in June 2022. However, the video has circulated since 2019 in reports about Patel being attacked during a rally in Gujarat, while he was still a member of the Congress party.

"Friends, as soon as Hardik Patel joined the BJP, he was greeted onstage with applause and a slap," reads a Hindi-language Facebook post shared here on June 4, 2022.

A seven-second video included in the post has been viewed more than 5,000 times.

The clip shows a man slapping an unaware Patel, who appears to be addressing a crowd from a stage.

The man who slaps Patel appears to shout at him, but the audio has been bleeped out.

English-language text that appears in the bottom-left of the video reads: "A man approached Hardik Patel on stage and slapped him."

Screenshot of the misleading post, captured on June 9, 2022

It circulated after Patel, the former Congress leader for the western state of Gujarat, joined the BJP on June 2.

In an interview with news magazine The Week, Patel said he left the Congress on May 18 after becoming frustrated with his lack of responsibility within the party.

The attack footage was also shared with a similar claim elsewhere on Facebook here and here; and on Twitter here and here.

Comments on the posts suggest some users believed the incident had happened when Patel joined the BJP.

One comment read: "Hardik Patel has been welcomed by the BJP with a slap. It was fun to see this."

"He deserves this. Even after being slapped, he will remain like a slave in the BJP," another commenter wrote.

However, the claim is misleading.

Old Gujarat rally video

A keyword search led to this longer video, posted on the YouTube channel of the Hindustan Times newspaper on April 19, 2019.

The clip used in the misleading post corresponds with the seven-second long section beginning at the 12-second mark of the YouTube video.

The caption of the video reads: "Congress leader Hardik Patel slapped at a rally in Gujarat".

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (left) and the video published by the Hindustan Times (right):

Reports by The Times of India and The Indian Express identified the attacker as Tarun Gajjar, who held a grudge against Patel for his role in leading sometimes violent protests in Gujarat state in 2015.

At the time, minority groups had been demanding that a proportion of government jobs and university places be set aside for them.

This quota system for some groups -- so-called "untouchables" -- is intended to remedy centuries of discrimination.

There have been no credible reports of Patel being slapped as he joined the BJP.

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