BJP photo shows Singapore metro, not India railway expansion

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed to push ahead with the country's railway expansion if he wins a third term in national elections. However, a photo shared online by local branches of his party does not show evidence of rail developments. The image in fact shows a metro train in Singapore in 2020.

"If employment hasn't increased, how did the metro reach the cities of India?" read a Bengali-language Facebook post that shared the photo on May 15, 2024.

"Congress will say, BJP will do!"

The post appears to hit back at the opposition Congress party's accusation that Modi's BJP has failed to create jobs.

It was shared by a BJP youth wing in India's Tripura state, while other branches in Tripura and West Bengal also shared the false claim on X, formerly Twitter.

The posts circulated as nearly a billion Indians voted in marathon elections over six weeks.

Analysts have long expected Modi to win against a fractious opposition alliance that includes Congress as its main party.

<span>Screenshot of false post taken on May 23, 2024</span>
Screenshot of false post taken on May 23, 2024

The BJP has pledged to expand India's railway network as a key election promise ahead of the 2024 polls (archived link).

According to Indian metro rail's website, 34 metro rail projects are already underway across the country, representing nearly 1,230 kilometres (760 miles) of track (archived link).

In 2022, the government told parliament that 548 kilometres (340 miles) of metro rail network had been constructed nationwide since the BJP came to power in 2014.

Singapore railway

However, a reverse image search on Google found the photo in a post online that said it was taken in Singapore, not India.

The photo was shared on stock image platform Unsplash on November 15, 2020 along with tags "Singapore" and "Jurong East" (archived link).

Singapore-based photographer Shawn Ang confirmed he took the photo in the city state.

"I took this picture of Jurong East MRT station on November 6, 2020," he told AFP.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in false posts (left) and Ang's photo (right):

<span>Screenshot comparison of the photo in false posts (left) and Ang's photo (right)</span>
Screenshot comparison of the photo in false posts (left) and Ang's photo (right)

Keyword searches and reverse image searches found a similar photo in a report by Singapore-based news site AsiaOne about the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) submitting applications for a fare increase (archived link).

In the false posts, the photo was altered to remove the SMRT logo.

<span>Screenshot comparison of the photo used in the false posts (left) and a magnified photo posted on Unsplash with the differences highlighted by AFP </span>
Screenshot comparison of the photo used in the false posts (left) and a magnified photo posted on Unsplash with the differences highlighted by AFP

Google Maps images of Singapore's Jurong East MRT Station correspond to the photo (archived link).

<span>Screenshot comparison of a keyframe from the video shared in false posts (left) and Google Maps imagery of Jurong East MRT Station (right)</span>
Screenshot comparison of a keyframe from the video shared in false posts (left) and Google Maps imagery of Jurong East MRT Station (right)

AFP has previously debunked more misinformation around the Indian election here.