This video shows India’s PM sitting on the floor with construction workers, not students

A video has been viewed tens of thousands of times in Chinese-language social media posts that claim it shows Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi refusing a chair to sit on the floor with “students” at a rally. The posts drew comments criticising Chinese leader Xi Jinping for not being more like Modi. But the claim shared with the video is misleading; multiple news reports state it shows Modi sitting on the floor with construction workers at the inauguration of a renovated Hindu temple complex.

The video has gained over 50,000 views since it was published on Twitter on December 20.

“Indian Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi took away the chair that was prepared for him when he attended the rally and sat calmly on the floor with the students,” the video’s simplified-Chinese caption partly reads.

A screenshot taken on December 28, 2021 of the misleading post

An identical video was also shared in Chinese-language posts that make a similar claim on Twitter, Facebook, Weibo, Douyin, Reddit and QQ.

Comments on the posts suggest social media users were misled.

“These students will remember this moment for the rest of their lives,” one wrote.

Some Chinese social media users responded to the posts by criticising Xi.

“President Xi will never learn from this,” a user commented.

“It makes the Pooh next door look more ignorant and shameless,” said another. Likening Xi to the Winnie the Pooh character has become a way to mock the Chinese leader, as reported here and here.

But multiple news reports state that the video shows Modi sitting with temple construction workers and not with students.

A reverse image search on Google found the video featured as part of a longer report published by local Indian media ETV Andhra Pradesh here on YouTube on December 18.

The report is titled: “PM Modi Ditches Chair, Sits on Stairs with Workers Who Built Kashi Vishwanath Corridor | in Varanasi.”

Modi inaugurated in December the renovated Kashi Vishwanath temple complex in Varanasi, a sacred city for Hindus.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading posts (left) and the ETV Andhra Pradesh video (right).

A screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (L) and the ETV News’ report (R).

Indian news organisation Republic TV also published a video of the event here on December 13.

The Hindi-language report states in part: “Watch how [Modi] is offering flowers to these labourers… extraordinary moment! Offering flowers to these workers on behalf of the entire country.”

Modi is seen showering the workers with flower petals before descending the steps, rejecting the chair and sitting with the crowds.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading posts (left) and a frame from the Republic TV report (right) with the chair Modi handed over circled in blue by AFP. The shots both show red carpeted steps and construction workers wearing orange tabards sitting on the steps in rows.

A screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading posts (left) and the Republic TV report (right) with chair circled in blue.