- Photo was from 2 years ago when Sundar Pichai visited IIT Kharagpur
- Mr Pichai, who lives in California, is US citizen and can't vote in India
- A number of people fell for the hoax
As voting began for the Lok Sabha elections on Thursday, a curious statement started swirling on Twitter: "Google CEO Sundar Pichai has voted in the Lok Sabha elections". What appeared to lend credence to the claim was a photo of Mr Pichai surrounded by an admiring crowd.
However, as with many such statements on social media, this too was soon debunked. Turns out, the photo was from two years ago when Mr Pichai visited IIT Kharagpur, his alma mater in West Bengal. Back then, in January 2017, he had addressed over 3,000 students, talking about India's startups and the digital economy.
Mr Pichai, who lives in California, close to Google headquarters, is an US citizen and cannot vote in India according to current rules. He was born in Tamil Nadu's Madurai district and went to school in Chennai. He graduated from IIT Kharagpur in 1993 before moving to the US to study at Stanford University and University of Pennsylvania.
A number of people who fell for the hoax drew parallels with the 2018 Tamil movie Sarkar, in which actor Vijay played a character reportedly modelled on the Google CEO, who returns to his home state just to cast his vote.
Voting is underway in 95 seats across India, more than half of which are in the South, representing nearly nine crore voters. People in 38 constituencies of Tamil Nadu, 14 of the 28 in Karnataka and the lone seat in Puducherry began queuing up early in the day to cast their votes. Results for the seven-phase election are due on May 23.