BJP Spreads Misinformation During Indian Elections

A poster shared by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) social media accounts shows India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a train to tout his rule’s supposed achievements in expanding national metro services. Image analysis, however, shows the photo is of Singapore’s metro train service.

Amid India’s elections, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants voters to know that it’s about action, not talk.

“Congress will say, BJP will do,” a poster shared recently by official and local BJP accounts on social media asserted, referring to the opposition Indian National Congress (or Congress Party).

The campaign poster features an image of Modi in front of an elevated metro-railway and touts the expansion of transit services in India over the last decade as evidence of the BJP’s can-do spirit and results-oriented governance. Except, the background photo isn’t of anything the BJP did. In fact, it’s not a train or railway in India at all.

Indian nonpartisan news outlet Boom Live identified the misleading background as a free online stock image of Jurong East station in Singapore. (TIME can confirm that the background is of the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit system, which was apparently digitally manipulated to hide the SMRT logo from the front of the train and its side door.)

It’s the latest example of the flood of disinformation and misinformation spreading in the country, particularly around political discourse. India’s elections of 2019 were already dogged by concerns of rampant misinformation, but the problem has only worsened—fueled by the growth of social media as well as the failure of tech companies and social media platforms to enforce content moderation policies.

And though false information has been detected across the political spectrum—from doctored photos of Bollywood stars endorsing the opposition to doctored videos of a single person casting multiple ballots (shared out of context from a training mock exercise) that casts doubt on the integrity of the election—the BJP has been notorious for its organized and coordinated social media manipulation efforts.

An April investigation by