Politics of Fake News: 'End of Quota' in Private Colleges Sold as Yogi's 'Anti-Corruption' Move

“In such a short span of time," gushed India Today, "several initiatives have been taken by UP CM Yogi Adityanath for the betterment of state and to end corruption.”

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath. Credit: PTI/Files

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath. Credit: PTI/Files

New Delhi: Since his appointment as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, the right wing PR machinery and certain sections of the media have been working in overdrive to give Adityanath an image makeover.

On Wednesday, social media was flooded with Facebook posts, tweets and memes congratulating the newly-elected CM for scrapping caste-based reservation in government medical colleges of the state. The trending story was picked up by eager ‘desktop journalists’ at various media outlets the next day.

India-Today original

“Yogi Adityanath government has just made an announcement to end quota based reservations in private medical and dental colleges of UP,“ claimed the India Today article, which has now been edited. 

“In such a short span of time,” the magazine gushed, “several initiatives have been taken by UP CM Yogi Adityanath for the betterment of state and to end corruption.”

The updated article claims that “this decision was taken by the outgoing Akhilesh Yadav-led Uttar Pradesh government but is now being implemented by the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government.”

India Today updated
Interestingly, the India Today story doesn’t attribute the ‘news’ to any source, individual or government department – one of the tell-tale signs of ‘fake news’.

Similar articles were carried by websites like Times Group’s Indiatimes and MensXP, as well as the Indian Express’s, Zee Group’s and News Nation.

Also read: Fake News — Hatemongers Passed Off Bangladesh Video as Anti-Hindu Violence in Bihar

However, authorities at the state medical education department were quick to refute the ‘story’. “Reservation was never a part of the admission process in private sector medical and dental colleges as per the prevalent policy made in 2006. There has been no change in any policy whatsoever,” V.N. Tripathi, the director general of medical education, told the Times of India.

Per an order issued on March 10, the Akhilesh Yadav government had released an admission policy on the basis of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) merit list 2017 for postgraduate courses, reported the New Indian Express. Clause 7 of the order states that in the private medical and dental colleges, there will not be any provision of reservation for students belonging to SC, ST and OBC categories in the admission process.

“Private medical and dental colleges have been brought under the umbrella of National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test for the first time. Seats in these colleges for post graduate courses are being filled through the NEET score,” Tripathi told the Times of India.

Across India, though reserved seats for SC, ST and OBC candidates exist in government-run medical and dental colleges, private colleges are generally exempt, though some states have mandated it. The Uttar Pradesh government’s March 10, 2017, order essentially reiterated this reality.

“Denying any fresh order issued by Yogi government, as claimed by news channels and sites, principal secretary, medical education, rubbished the reports as a possible act of mischief to malign the new government,” the New Indian Express reported.

Given the aggressive manner in which the BJP has sought to woo SC, ST and OBC voters, the ‘news’ that Adityanath was scrapping caste-based reservation for students is likely to have been met with hostility from these groups.

Ironically, none of the media platforms that reported the ‘story’ reflected on this aspect of the ‘news’. And how India Today spun the ‘decision’ as a move for the “betterment of state and to end corruption” is anybody’s guess.

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