Ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections, several Congress party accounts shared a photograph of a group of women taking selfies in front of pink buses, to claim that the party had pledged to bring in a fleet of buses dedicated to women so as to make transport safer for them.
However, we found that the photograph shared by these verified accounts is actually from an Assam government scheme.
The state introduced the ‘Brahman Sarathi’ scheme in 2021 under former Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, for women and elderly people in Guwahati, which allows the groups to travel for free in the city in 25 pink-coloured buses.
The photograph was shared by the Himachal Pradesh Congress Sevadal with Hindi text that reads:
“अब महिलाएं नहीं होंगी छेड़खानी का शिकार। महिलाओं के लिए फ्री बस सेवा लाएगी कांग्रेस सरकार।।
ये वादे नहीं प्रतिज्ञाएं हैं।”
(Translation: Now women will not have to face harassment. A Congress government will bring a free bus service for women. These are not promises, they are pledges.)
The tweets has a hashtag - #111CongressDubara - that has been used by the party for their campaign in Punjab.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
We cropped the graphic to isolate the image and ran a reverse image search on it. The results led us to an Outlook photo story about road transport across India, with over 600 photos in it.
The article carried the same image, attributing it to PTI. The caption stated that the photo showed women taking selfies during the launch of pink buses for women and senior citizens in Khanapara, Guwahati in Assam. The service was launched under the state’s Brahman Sarathi scheme.
On observing closely, we noticed that in the photographs shared in the claim by Congress accounts, the Bangla text on the bus had been blurred.
Next, we looked for the same photo in PTI’s archives and found one with the same caption saying that it was taken on 9 January 2021.
Using keyword search, we came across a tweet from CMO Assam’s verified Twitter account, which also showed similar buses.
A similar photograph was also shared by Assam’s transport minister Chandra Mohan Patowary on Twitter.
As per the Economic Times, former Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal earmarked 25 buses for women and senior citizens in January 2021, which would transport them across Guwahati for free. The report added that the service would ply on five routes within the city.
Evidently, Congress accounts wrongly shared a photograph of a free bus service provided by the Assam government in Guwahati as a campaign of their own.