Ahead of the Indian elections in May, an Indian publication on Wednesday exposed 36 Bollywood celebrities who had agreed to share politically charged posts on their social media platforms, in exchange for a hefty amount, in an attempt to alter the public’s political opinion.
In a sting operation titled ‘Operation Karaoke’ the investigative publicationÂ CobrapostÂ posed to be a PR agency as it approached Bollywood stars, asking them to use their social media influence and post doctored content in order toÂ persuade theirÂ millions of followers to form opinions about specific political parties. The report published video evidence as well which shows the actors making monetary deals,Â Gulf NewsÂ has reported.
The non-profit company also provided a brief to these stars as to what needs to be posted by them.Â Vivek Oberoi, Sunny Leone, Jackie Shroff, Shakti Kapoor, Mika Singh, Rakhi Sawant among others agreed to seal the deal.
“The investigation was made to expose the celebrities willing to endorse a political agenda in return for monetary gains,” a spokesperson forÂ Cobrapost said.
While Sunny Leone demanded that her husband Daniel Weber be given Indian citizenship, theÂ Simmba and Dabangg famed Sonu demanded INR 200 million.
However, in response to the report, Sunny tweeted that the news circulating about her association with any particular political party is false as she has not expressed any biased opinions to show any kind of support on her social media.
Clarity !!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/tQ192e4J0W
— Sunny Leone (@SunnyLeone) February 19, 2019
While Sonu didn’t deny his association with the deal, he posted a clarification on Twitter, expressing that the video has been “edited to sabotage” his image. He added that it is a regular practice of brands as well as political parties to ask celebrities to endorse them and it is not unethical as long as it is “followed in a responsible manner.”
Truth shall prevail !!! pic.twitter.com/8ivfm9lqm1
— sonu sood (@SonuSood) February 19, 2019
The report also mentioned Bollywood stars namely Vidya Balan, Raza Murad, Arshad Warsi and Saumya Tandon were approached as part of the sting operation, however, they blatantly refused to broker a deal.
“While we saw all these celebs succumbing to the lure of money and agreeing to indulge in this unethical and unlawful practice, there were some notable exceptions, though. When we approached Vidya, Arshad, Raza and Saumya with our proposition, these celebs chose to go by their conscience and straightaway refused to play ball,” the report added.
Ameesha Patel, Mahima Chaudhry, Rohit Roy, Shreyas Talpade, Aman Verma, Rajpal Yadav, Ganesh Acharya, Kailash Kher are some of the names who were exposed through the operation.