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PM Modi ‘Biggest Contender’ For Nobel Peace Prize? Here’s The Truth Behind Viral Claim Attributed To Asle Toje

Authors

Vasudha noticed the growing problem of mis/disinformation online after studying New Media at ACJ in Chennai and became interested in separating facts from fiction. She is interested in learning how global issues affect individuals on a micro level. Before joining Newschecker’s English team, she was working with Latestly.

Claim

Deputy leader of the Nobel Committee Asle Toje said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the biggest contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Fact
No publicly available audio/video shows Toje making such a statement. News reports clarified that the quote was falsely attributed to him.

Mainstream and social media ecosystems in India were taken by storm since late Wednesday, with the “news” that Deputy Leader of the Nobel Committee Asle Toje declared PM Modi as the “biggest contender” for the Nobel Peace Prize. Major news outlets, including the Times of India, Economic Times, CNBC-TV18, and OpIndia, were among the many to report Toje’s alleged statement on the Indian PM. Social media platforms were abuzz with users congratulating PM Modi for his “achievement,” many also taking a dig at the opposition.

Newschecker also received the same claim on our WhatsApp tipline (+91-9999499044) requesting to be fact checked

Who Is Asle Toje?

Asle Toje is the deputy leader of the five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee that will select the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He holds the position until 2024. Toje was in India to address an event organised by a non-profit organisation called India Center Foundation (ICF) earlier this week.

Also Read: PM Modi’s Effigy Wrapped In National Flag, Paraded Upside Down In Punjab? Here’s What We Found

Fact Check/Verification

We began by analysing Toje’s recent address at the India Center Foundation event, but could not spot any mention of PM Modi’s prospects of winning the Nobel Peace Prize, neither during his speech nor in the Q & A session. His full address can be seen below:

Following this, we skimmed through the various interviews given by Toje to Indian media. Though Toje speaks highly of the Indian Prime Minister, nowhere does he “reveal” that PM Modi is the “biggest contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.” No credible international news outlets reported the same either.

News Outlets Call Out Contemporaries For Fake News

After a section of Indian media alleged that Toje called PM Modi the “biggest contender for the Nobel Peace Prize,” several other news outlets accused them of carrying “fake news.”

News Laundry published a report titled ”Times Now puts out fake news on PM Modi as the biggest contender for the Nobel peace prize” on March 16, 2023. It analysed the various reports by Times Now, ABP, and the Economic Times on this issue, and concluded that “none of these media outlets could verify that members of the Nobel panel cannot publicly declare either the nominees or their prospects.”

Screengrab from News Laundry website

In a report dated March 16, 2023, Zee News stated, “…it is clear that while Toje heaped praise on the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, he did not say a word about PM Modi as a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize. Thus, the news reports were fake. “

Multiple other news outlets reported that Toje “categorically denied” declaring PM Modi as the biggest contender for the Nobel Peace Prize as “fake.” Such reports can be seen here, here and here.

Screengrab from HT website

IFC Chairman: Indian TV Channels Misquoted Toje

In a report dated March 16, 2023, The Print quoted ICF chairman Vibhav K. Upadhyay as saying, “Indian TV channels have misquoted Mr Toje. He never said that. I hope it is by mistake or by extra enthusiasm, but if this has been done by design, then it is criminal.” Upadhyay added that he suspected certain media outlets of running false headlines for the element of sensationalism.

The report further stated that the ICF reported certain individuals who shared the “false narrative” on Twitter, to Delhi Police’s cybercrime branch, the Press Information Bureau, and Twitter, requesting that such posts be taken down.

Screengrab from The Print website

Additionally, a report by BoomLive carried a clarification by Manoj Kumar Sharma, who was a part of the Core Committee that organised the event, confirming that no such comment was made by Toje to his knowledge.  Sharma was further quoted as saying, “I was with the Norwegian Deputy Leader of the Nobel Prize Committee Mr. Asle Toje at IIC, and yesterday at the ITC Maurya Sheraton Hotel, where the Times Now journalist had come to take the interview. Mr. Toje never said this in his keynote address at the IIC on 14th March, nor in the interview last night with the Times Now journalist.”

Nobel Prize Website: Names Of Nominees May Not Be Divulged Until 50 Years

As per the official website of the Nobel Prize, “There are 305 candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2023 out of which 212 are individuals and 93 are organisations…Neither the names of nominators nor of nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize may be divulged until 50 years have elapsed.

Nobel Peace Prize
Screengrab from Nobel Prize website

Newschecker has reached out to Asle Toje for his comments on the matter. This article will be updated upon receiving the same.

Conclusion

The viral claim that Deputy Leader of the Nobel Committee Asle Toje named PM Modi as the “biggest contender” for the Nobel Peace Prize is false. Though Toje is heard praising PM Modi in several interviews, there is no publicly available audio/video where he is heard or seen making such a statement.

Result: False

Sources

Report By News Laundry, Dated March 16, 2023
Report By Zee News, Dated March 16, 2023
Report By The Print, Dated March 16, 2023
Report By BoomLive, Dated March 16, 2023
Nobel Prize Website


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Authors

Vasudha noticed the growing problem of mis/disinformation online after studying New Media at ACJ in Chennai and became interested in separating facts from fiction. She is interested in learning how global issues affect individuals on a micro level. Before joining Newschecker’s English team, she was working with Latestly.

Vasudha Beri
Vasudha Beri
Vasudha noticed the growing problem of mis/disinformation online after studying New Media at ACJ in Chennai and became interested in separating facts from fiction. She is interested in learning how global issues affect individuals on a micro level. Before joining Newschecker’s English team, she was working with Latestly.

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