What is green, rectangular and sports a star and a crescent?
Actor Koena Mitra, like many others, thought she knew the answer when thousands of flags fitting this description turned up to greet Congress president Rahul Gandhi at a recent roadshow in Kerala's Wayanad. "Pakistani," said some, while others saw it as an endorsement of the BJP's view that Mr Gandhi "fled" to Wayanad to gain Islamic support. Ms Mitra drew from history to target the Congress.
"First partition was done by Terrorist Jinnah, Next could be Rahul Gandhi. Islamic flags welcomed him to #Kerala. Congress manifesto is pro-jihad and anti-jawans, anti-India. Somebody is working hard for "Gazwa-e-Hind," she tweeted on Thursday, attaching a photograph of hundreds holding up flags fitting the description.
First partition was done by Terrorist Jinnah, Next could be Rahul Gandhi.— Koena Mitra (@koenamitra) April 4, 2019
Islamic flags welcomed him to #Kerala. Congress manifesto is pro jihad and anti jawans, anti India. Somebody is working hard for "Gazwa-e-Hind" pic.twitter.com/8YN1Yd5xiP
Clarity, however, came from a most unexpected source. "Dear @koenamitraji. This is the flag of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), which has a great legacy of opting for us -- India -- during time of Partition. They are our Muslim bros who chose Gandhiji's India over Jinnah's Pakistan," tweeted right-wing activist Rahul Easwar in response to the actor's post, adding that "facts are more important than votes". Proving him right is a comparison of the IUML flag with that of Pakistan, which shows how distinct the two are despite having similar elements.
Mr Easwar was at the forefront of a right-wing agitation against a Supreme Court order allowing women of menstrual age to enter the Sabarimala temple, an issue that spurred clashes across Kerala last year.
Dear @koenamitra ji— Rahul Easwar (@RahulEaswar) April 5, 2019
This is the flag of Indian Union Muslim League. Who has a great legacy of opting for us, India during time of partition. They are our Muslim bros who chose a Gandhijis India than a Jinnahs Pakistan.
( I also vote for Modiji,
& Facts are more imp than Votes) https://t.co/87pVCa1cwv
This, however, may not have been the only thing incorrect about the post by the Bollywood actor, best known for her film Apna Sapna Money Money. Fact-checking website AltNews.in found that the photograph she had used in her post was not from the Congress president's rally but a political event conducted by Kerala Minister PK Kunhalikutty way back on January 30, 2016. The original image, it further revealed, was shot by photographer T Mohandas.
However, the controversy refuses to die down. The IUML is a part of the Congress-led United Democratic Front in Kerala, and the BJP -- especially Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath -- has used this fact to allege that the opposition party is going the Jinnah way ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. "Muslim League is a virus," the firebrand BJP leader tweeted in a reference to the IUML yesterday. "In 1857, the entire country fought against Britishers with Mangal Pandey, but this Muslim League virus came and spread in such a way that the country was divided. The same threat is looming over the country again. Congress is suffering from the Muslim League virus, remain alert."