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Fact Check: Viral Video Of Baburam Bhattarai Alleging Top Leaders Of Embezzling Billions In Budhi Gandaki Project Is Edited

Sanjeeb Phuyal is the Nepali Editor of Newschecker based in Kathmandu, Nepal. He brings over a decade of experience writing and editing news. In his previous stint, he worked as online editor for The Kathmandu Post. With the growth of social media platforms—and the ever-growing competition amongst media outlets to churn out breaking news, he feels that fact-checking every piece of information has become more essential today than ever before.

Claim
Ex-Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai Accuses Top Leaders Of embezzling funds in his parliament address
Fact
The audio of Bhattarai levelling corruption allegation is from a programme in Gorkha

A 17-second video clip purportedly depicting former Prime Minister and Chairman of Socialist Party of Nepal Baburam Bhattarai speaking in the parliament is going viral on TikTok. In the video, leader Bhattarai is heard accusing top leaders—Communist Party of Nepal Unified-Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) Chairman KP Sharma Oli, Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur and CPN (Maoist Centre) Pushpa Kamal Dahal—of being involved in massive corruption in Budhi Gandaki Hydropower. Newschecker found the video shared with a false context.  

TikTok user @nareshkonmeg posted a video, showing former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai speaking at Nepal’s federal House of Representatives. In the audio accompanying the video, Bhattarai says, “Billions of rupees are being looted. I know why the Budhi Gandaki, which was started during my tenure [as Prime Minister], has remained in jeopardy due to commission. KP Oli, Sher Bahadur Deuba, and Prachanda have embezzled 9 billion rupees in commission in the Budhi Gandaki Project. I can prove it.”  The video also shows CPN (Maoist Centre) Chairman and incumbent Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal wearing a mask. The archived link to the TikTok video can be seen here.

Screengrab showing the TikTok video.

The video posted on March 9 has garnered 1636 likes, 307 users have shared it and 140 people have commented on it until the last count.

Fact Check /Verification

To check the authenticity of the claim made in the viral video, Newschecker conducted a search on google by using keyword ‘Baburam Bhattarai Budhi Gandaki corruption’ and found several articles related to Bhattarai’s remark about alleged corruption in Budhi Gandaki Hydropower project. On checking an article published on recordnepal.com on 13 October 2020, we found that Bhattarai had accused the top leaders of the country of embezzling billions of rupees. According to the article, Bhattarai was speaking at a programme in his home constituency in Gorkha on October 8, 2020. He didn’t say that in the parliament as claimed by the viral video.

Then, we conducted a search on YouTube by using the keyword ‘Baburam Bhattarai addressing the Parliament’ and found a video whose thumbnail image matched the frame from the viral video. On checking the video thoroughly, we found that the frame from 11.8-minute onwards matched the viral video. The video of Nepal’s Parliament published on the YouTube channel named Achyut Ghising showed Bhattarai speaking at the parliament on the issue of prolonged lockdown and government’s failure to address the economic woes of poor people in post-covid scenario.

Further, we found a video showing Baburam Bhattarai addressing a program published on the YouTube channel named NewsKosheli TV on 10 October, 2020. The speech of Bhattarai from 0.15-minute onwards exactly matched the audio accompanying the viral video.

Our findings clearly indicated that the viral video actually shows Bhattarai addressing the House of Representatives, while the audio accompanying the video is from a program in Gorkha.

Conclusion

The viral video showing Baburam Bhattarai alleging top political leaders of embezzling billions of rupees in Budhi Gandaki Hydropower Project in his purported address to the parliament is shared with a missing context as the audio of Bhattarai is actually from a different program in Gorkha.

Result: Altered video

Sources
NewsKoseli TV/YouTube , 10 October, 2020
Record Nepal 13 October, 2020
Achyut Ghising, 9 May, 2020


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Sanjeeb Phuyal is the Nepali Editor of Newschecker based in Kathmandu, Nepal. He brings over a decade of experience writing and editing news. In his previous stint, he worked as online editor for The Kathmandu Post. With the growth of social media platforms—and the ever-growing competition amongst media outlets to churn out breaking news, he feels that fact-checking every piece of information has become more essential today than ever before.

Sanjeeb Phuyal
Sanjeeb Phuyal
Sanjeeb Phuyal is the Nepali Editor of Newschecker based in Kathmandu, Nepal. He brings over a decade of experience writing and editing news. In his previous stint, he worked as online editor for The Kathmandu Post. With the growth of social media platforms—and the ever-growing competition amongst media outlets to churn out breaking news, he feels that fact-checking every piece of information has become more essential today than ever before.

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