The stinging documentary "Operation Karaoke" was played at the Press Club in Delhi on Tuesday, and subsequently went viral across media platforms.
Cobrapost, an Indian web portal dedicated to investigative journalism, claimed that its under-cover reporters approached these celebrities with a simple question: Would you be willing to promote a political party discreetly on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram? "Almost all of the above celebs concurred that they would do it for a fee."
#OperationKaraoke: Agreeing to promote AAP on Social media, Actor & Director Shreyas Talpade asks how many Messages he is supposed to tweet, “Haan aur ye aapko kitne duration mein tweet lenge” #BikaooBollywood pic.twitter.com/aYKrG285w9— Cobrapost (@cobrapost) February 19, 2019
Those exposed in the sting operation included porn-star turned mainstream actor Sunny Leonne, other well know actors like Jackie Shroff, Shakti Kapoor, Vivek Oberoi, Sonu Sood, Amisha Patel, Minissha Lamba, Koena Mitra, Poonam Pandey, as well as noted singers such as Abhijeet Bhattacharya, Kailash Kher, Mika Singh and Baba Sehgal.
#OperationKaraoke: Sunny Leonne has a condition of granting her husband Overseas Citizenship to support BJP: “Modi Sir ne Daniel ko overseas citizen banaya toh hum zaroor support karenge.” #BikaooBollywood pic.twitter.com/nGGw0OonRy— Cobrapost (@cobrapost) February 19, 2019
"Celebs agreed to promote the party in question to create a favourable environment before the 2019 general elections. Some of them even tweeted without having been paid any money to show their eagerness to our reporters. Most of them were willing to accept the bulk of their fee in cash, which in other words means black money," Cobrapost claimed.
"They agreed to send us their PAN and banking details, and many actually did so. Some actors even proposed that they would proxy promote the political party in their press briefings during the promotion of a film or an event," the website claimed.
These celebrities,without blinking an eye, agreed to accept cash payments ranging from INR 200,000 to INR 5,000,000 per message. Some of them even quoted a fee of $3 million for an eight-month contract, and almost none of them said no to black money when the investigative reporters told them a bulk of their fee would be paid in cash, the report claimed.
The celebrities who were approached have millions of followers on Facebook and Twitter. Mika Singh has more than 10 million followers, Amisha Patel 6 million, Vivek Oberoi has about 3 million followers, and Abhijit Bhattacharya has more than 2 million followers. Outshining all these celebs is adult star turned actor Sunny Leonne, who has more than 20 million followers on Twitter alone.
Earlier this month, the popular messaging service WhatsApp had asked Indian politicians to refrain from using the platform as a means to spread information that is meant to distort the political debate ahead of the country's general elections, due in May of this year.