The BJP leader tweeted a photo of a couple kissing, claiming it was at IIT-Madras, to hit out at Stalin and Vaiko on a completely different issue.

He could at least have used less known pic Woman in H Rajas fake IIT tweet tells TNMYoutube
news Controversy Thursday, March 01, 2018 - 08:09

What does the ‘Kiss of Love’ protest in Delhi in 2014 have to do with the singing of a religious Sanskrit song, in place of the Tamizh Thai Vazhthu, at the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai in 2018? 

Tamil Nadu BJP leader H Raja took to Twitter at 1.41am on Wednesday to target DMK leader Stalin, and MDMK leader Vaiko. The tweet read, “For the attention of Vaiko and Stalin: When you developed Tamil culture at IIT-Madras.” 

The words were accompanied by a picture of a couple kissing. Except, if you’ve either followed the ‘Kiss of Love’ protests from 2014, or read any story about kissing in public, or even a listicle about things India needs to relax about, you may have seen this picture scores of times already.

“It could have been any couple kissing, he could have picked a less known picture and could have passed it off as students at IIT, if that’s what he wanted to do,” says Swati Vijaya, the doctoral researcher who is the woman in the picture. 

“It didn’t have to be us. It’s very stupid of him… He could have at least used a picture taken on a campus. He didn’t even try hard enough!” Swati laughs at the fake tweet. 

The BJP leader was trying to hit back at Stalin and Vaiko for raising the issue of a religious Sanskrit song being sung at IIT-Madras at a function attended by two Union Ministers, in place of the Tamizh Thai Vazhthu – the invocation of the Tamil mother. 

Clearly, authenticity or facts weren’t very high on Raja’s list of things to check before he hit out at his political opponents. 

“The picture was taken at the ‘Kiss of Love’ protest in Delhi in 2014. In fact, we had kissed before the actual protest had started, and there was some aggression from the counter protesters at the venue – the ABVP members – although the violence was contained. There were lots of people who kissed after us, but somehow it was our picture that created a stir,” Swati tells TNM.

Since then, Swati has seen the picture crop up at different places in different contexts. “And the reactions to the picture are always intriguing,” she says. “Either there are very abusive comments directed at us, or there are these listicles about ‘progressive’ acts and this becomes a part of them,” Swati recalls.

“Of course, no one ever thinks it’s normal. It’s always either ‘progressive’ or ‘regressive’,” she observes.

And what does she think of the photo resurfacing now, three and a half years later, in a completely different context?

“They just want to create fear,” says Swati, about the use of the picture in Raja’s tweet. In the times that we are living in, she says, this is the kind of moral paranoia that some people want to spread. “They want to show this (the kiss) as something regressive – that if you let things continue the way they are, then this is where the society is going to end up.”

Drawing an analogy to visual messaging around global warming, an amused Swati says, “It’s where they show the earth was like this before, after global warming the earth will be half gone. The photo of us kissing used in a context like this is similar.”

Controversy around tweeting unverified and fake information is not new to H Raja. He has earlier tweeted made up quotes attributed to Google CEO Sundar Pichai

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