Gujarat Cong campaign ad ‘lifts’ photo from website

The Congress ad

An Indian Express exclusive shows malnourishment has raked up another controversy in Gujarat, this time over an advertisement by the state Congress issued under its 'Join hands for change' initiative.

Social media went abuzz on Sunday claiming the skinny baby shown in the Congress ad to depict malnourishment in Gujarat was actually lifted from a website of a Christian organisation.

The issue went viral on the Internet showing the picture of the child in arms of a woman, with a note saying these were victims of a Sri Lankan flood.

Asked if the picture was lifted from a website, Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee's campaign in-charge Siddharth Patel was non-committal and said, "Rather than focus on the picture, I want to point out that the facts we have used in the ad is correct and people should see that. We (PCC) will make the facts available to the press if there are any questions on it. The BJP does not have any issues to counter us with, which is why they are raking up such petty issues. It wants to divert the minds of people on a different track. But what I would like to know is what it is doing about malnutrition among children rampant in the state. Why don't they give an answer to that first?"

A statement from the ad agency Adosphere that looks at Congress's social media and poll campaigns gave out statistics on malnutrition among children in the state. The email also contained an image of seven-month-old Heera Gopalbhai Baria from Dahod clicked on April 22, 2010 by Abhijit Bhatlekar and a doctor looking at a fourth grade malnourished child inside a hut in a village on the Maharashtra-Gujarat border.

"For us there is nothing more important than the children of Gujarat. They are the future. And our campaign has rightly focused on the high rates of malnutrition that is the stark reality of Vibrant Gujarat. The fact is the other images of Gujarat were even worse and we are not so inhuman to showcase that to the people of Gujarat and hurt their sentiments. After all fact still remains fact," said an official from Adosphere, the creative and strategy consultant for Join Hands for Change, an initiative of the Indian National Congress.

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