In a fresh expose, Investigative journalism platform Cobrapost in its series titled Operation Karaoke has unveiled over three dozen Bollywood celebrities who are ready to promote a political party by posting favourable messages on their social media accounts to ‘help create a buzz’ in the run-up to 2019 elections, all for money.
Dozens of Bollywood celebrities have been caught on record agreeing to post political propaganda on their social media handles in exchange of money, paid in cash.
This new revelation comes just months ahead of the 2019 General Elections and it names some of the biggest B-town celebrities.
Cobrapost in its extensive sting operation has given out the names of over three dozen celebrities which include prominent singers, actors like Abhijeet Bhattacharya, Kailash Kher, Mika Singh and Baba Sehgal; actors Jackie Shroff, Shakti Kapoor, Vivek Oberoi, Sonu Sood, Ameesha Patel, Mahima Chaudhry, Shreyas Talpade, Puneet Issar, Surendra Pal, Pankaj Dheer, Tisca Chopra, Deepshikha Nagpal, Akhilendra Mishra, Rohit Roy, Rahul Bhat, Salim Zaidi, Rakhi Sawant, Aman Verma, Hiten Tejwani, Gauri Pradhan, Evelyn Sharma, Minissha Lamba, Koena Mitra, Poonam Pandey, Sunny Leone among others.
#OperationKaraoke An investigation by Cobrapost exposes three dozen Bollywood celebrities, including famous singers, comedians & actors, willing to post messages as their personal opinion on social media, on behalf of political parties, All for money.https://t.co/LUpB5REN13 pic.twitter.com/RTIxvlg23c
— Cobrapost (@cobrapost) February 19, 2019
The exposé termed as ‘Operation Karaoke’ also contains names of comedians like Raju Srivastava, Sunil Pal, Rajpal Yadav, Upasana Singh, Krushna Abhishek among others.
However, the investigative platform mentioned that four celebrities- Arshad Warsi, Vidya Balan, Raza Murad and Saumya Tandon- when approached by Cobrapost’s undercover celebrities refused to take part in the exercise of misleading their fans in exchange for some quick cash.
All these celebrities are media powerhouses in their own right since most of their fan base runs into lakhs.
Last year, Cobrapost did a similar investigative report of large media houses, most of whom agreed to run pro-Hindutva contents for a hefty price.
Cobrapost said that their undercover reporters approached these celebrities through their managers.
The reporters posed as employees of public relations firm which represented the BJP, Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party.
Cobrapost reports, “many of these celebs suggested they would improvise on the content they would be provided for this proxy promotion, while some suggested their own bit to do it in a more convincing and effective way.”
Abhijeet Bhattacharya, for instance, suggested he would use his mobile phone to make videos for the promotion of the BJP in situations which look natural.
He said, “Hoon, natural lage na kahin khade traffic mein gaadi ke andar baith ke bol diya chaay pee rahe hain coffee shop pe bol diya toh wo … haan natural (It should look natural. Suppose, I am at a traffic signal and I say something while sitting in my car or sipping tea at a coffee shop … yes [that would look] natural).”
Here too, the singer did not lose a chance to spew venom against Muslims. Referring to a controversial statement made by one of the BJP legislators from Hyderabad, Bhattacharya observed, “Ye isne bahut accha kiya tha Raja Singh bhi mere paas aate hain Hyderabad se BJP ke MLA Raja Singh bilkul wahan ke Yogi hain. Usne bola tha na Rohingya ko itna kyon de rahe ho seedha goli maar do. Baahar jaate hain toh theek hai warna goli maar do. Toh wo attitude hona chahiye … nahi main boloonga Rohingya ko goli maar do jo support karte hain unko goli maar do pehle unko maaro baad mein unko maaro (This fellow did the right thing. Raja Singh, the BJP MLA from Hyderabad, visits me. He is Yogi [Adityanath] of Hyderabad. He had said why give Rohingyas any shelter, why not shoot them. This should be the attitude … No, I will say shoot the Rohingyas and shoot those who support them. First kill their supporters and then them).”