“Aap jante hai DNA mein research par sabse zyada zor diya ja sakta…diya jaata hai. [You know that DNA can give…gives research the most importance],” said Sudhir Chaudhary a few minutes into the July 3 broadcast of his flagship show, Daily News and Analysis or more popularly, DNA.
In the 7.50-minute programe, Chaudhary claimed to have discovered the truth about newly-elected Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra’s highly acclaimed maiden speech in the Parliament on June 25, which he described as “hateful”. In the speech, Moitra had listed seven “early signs of fascism” rising in India.
Chaudhary tweeted images of a 2017 article from which, he claimed, words had been “stolen” for Moitra’s speech. “Parliament’s dignity is in danger,” he declared.
The 2017 article that he referred to spoke about “12 early warning signs of fascism” in Donald Trump’s America. “Her speech replaced ‘Trump’ with ‘Modi’,” asserted Chaudhury, holding up a printout of the article for the camera.
The name of the article’s author, Martin Longman, is faintly visible on the piece of paper that Chaudhary holds. Longman had published an article to this effect in the Washington Monthly on January 31, 2017. In the piece, he said that these indications of rising fascism were listed on a poster displayed in the US Holocaust Museum.
Before the Zee News show, prominent social media users – Shobha De, Makarand Paranjape, Kanchan Gupta – had also claimed that Moitra’s speech had been plagiarised. Film director Vivek Agnihotri made this allegation too.
As it turns out, towards the end of her Parliamentary address, Moitra actually mentioned the source of her inspiration.
At 9:12 minutes in the video below, she can be heard saying, “In 2017, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum put up a poster in its main lobby and it contained a list of all the signs of early fascism. Each of the seven signs I have pointed to you, features on that poster.”
This is not the first time this poster has been the focus of attention. A 2017 fact-check by the American website Snopes found that the poster was not on display at the museum but was available in its gift shop.
After a controversy sparked by Zee News and others, Longman tweeted to say that Moitra was being “falsely accused” of plagiarism.
In a press statement on Wedneday, Moitra clarified that her speech was inspired by “the poster from the Holocaust Museum created by Dr Lawrence W Brit pointing out the 14 signs of early fascism”. She noted that she had mentioned her source during the address. “Plagiarism is when one does not disclose one’s source,” she said.
Alt News found a copy of an excerpt where Britt spoke about the 14 signs. It was published in the Free Inquiry Magazine, Vol 22 no 2, on July 15, 2003.
Despite Longman’s clarification and Moitra’s statement, Zee News did not rectify its report. In fact, Sudhir Chaudhary wrote in a tweet, “The #TukdeTukdeGang has been demolished and is crying foul again.”
This article first appeared on Alt News.