Gagan Thapa, general secretary of the Nepali Congress and a member of the House of Representatives, delivered a speech at a gathering of senior cadres on March 4, 2022 in Pokhara. A video clip purportedly from that address has since gone viral on Facebook.
On August 29, 2022, Facebook user ’Kshetri Saud Tejraj’ shared a 22-second video with a caption: “[His agenda does] not [include] a gas pipeline to the kitchen. [However, when he is elected prime minister] every person will own a smartphone. Gagan [Thapa], will the free mobile phone be an iPhone or a Samsung?”
The Facebook post includes a video of Thapa in which he is heard saying:
As of September 15, 2022, the video received 940 likes and 776 comments. The post has been shared more than 3,000 times and viewed more than 385,000 times. The post was also shared by a Facebook page named ‘Hamro Sundar Sudurpaschim’ and ‘NB Media Nepal’. The former has more than 1,000 followers.
We first looked up the video on YouTube using the search terms “Gagan Thapa to offer free iPhones” (in Nepali). We found a 93 second video on a YouTube channel named ‘Scot Nepal’. However, the video we found didn’t include the bit where Thapa talks about the freebies.
यो सत्यापन नेपालीमा पढ्नुस्
However, the video did contain clues. The date the event took place was displayed on a banner on the stage in the video as March 4 and 5. The event took place at Shitaladevi Party Palace in Pokhara, and was organised by the Madi Rural Municipality unit of the party.
We found the municipality’s Facebook page after searching for ’Nepali Congress Madi Rural Municipality’ on Google. We found a video of Thapa giving a speech on March 4, 2022. The segment of his speech about free mobile phones and monthly stipends for the elderly was not included in the 15-minute and 24-second footage.
A search on Google for ’Nepali Congress Madi Rural Municipality Senior Cadres Assembly Video’ led us to a two-hour six minute and 37 second long video published by Pokhara Television HD. The link to the video didn’t open, though.
Then we found Pokhara Television HD’s Facebook page. The Facebook page shared the video on March 4, 2022. (To hear about the claim, listen to his speech from 1:36:55 to 1:38:00)
Thapa, the NC general secretary, spoke at the event for more than an hour.
In his speech, Thapa said the following:
Thapa had indeed spoken about a 30,000-rupee handout for the elderly, free mobile phones for everyone above the age of 18, and free 100 litres petrol every year for bikers. However, he had said so to emphasise his point, especially to the opposition parties, that while it is easy to get cheers for populist programs, it is difficult to finance such programs. He talked about the freebies in jest to bolster his argument.
Nepal Check concludes that Thapa’s six-month old speech regarding difficulties in financing populist government schemes and programs was posted without providing the proper context. Therefore, both the post and the video clip are misleading.
|Claim||Claimed by||Nepal Check Verdict|
|Nepali Congress General Secretary Gagan Thapa said that if he is elected prime minister, he will provide a 30,000-rupee handout for the elderly and free mobile phones for those over the age of 18.||Facebook users||Misleading|
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