Kannada news channels on Monday reported that the government had given Tamil Nadu the geographical indication tag, or GI tag, for Mysore Pak, a sweet popular in South India, falling for a joke tweeted by columnist Anand Ranganathan. The GI tag is given to certain products to specify their area of origin.

“Pleased to receive this token of appreciation, on behalf of the one-man-committee for granting of the Mysorepak GI tag to Tamil Nadu,” Ranganathan tweeted on Sunday, along with a photo of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. “Talks are proceeding smoothly. WDTT.”

However, on Monday Kannada news channels such as TV9 Kannada and News18 Kannada picked up the tweet and published stories about Tamil Nadu being given the GI tag.

“Dear TV9 Kannada, you cannot be serious, stop this at once,” Ranganathan tweeted after he saw the report by the news channel. It reported that the “development” had sparked discussions among the public about the sweet’s origin, and broadcast images of Mysore Pak being served in a function, The News Minute reported.

Regional Karnataka news channel Dighvijay News alleged that Sitharaman had given Tamil Nadu the GI tag despite being elected to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka. The channel called her “two-faced Nirmala”. TV5 Kannada told its viewers that the neighbouring state was trying to spark a fight over the sweet’s origins while News18 Kannada reported that the people of Karnataka were outraged, according to The News Minute.

Former MLA and Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha leader Vatal Nagaraj hit out at Tamil Nadu. “Is this a joke?” The News Minute quoted him as saying. “After Cauvery and Mekedatu issues, they have come for our sweet also now? Let them beware. Whether it is Stalin or anyone else, we might have let it be but there is no chance of renaming Mysore Pak. In the whole world, it will be Mysore Pak and only Mysore Pak.”

As things seemed to spiral out of control, Ranganathan appealed to Bangalore South MP Tejaswi Surya to stop the spread of fake news. Surya called up a news channel that was running live reports to clarify the matter. “If humor and sarcasm is lost from our public conversations, it will be such a loss,” the BJP leader tweeted.

This is not the first time the media has fallen for a satirical tweet by Ranganathan. In 2017, The Times of India reported how Tamil Nadu and Karnataka were fighting it out over the sweet on the basis of a 2015 tweet by the columnist. The newspaper later retracted the story, but not before other publications picked it up.

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