Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra on Wednesday dismissed allegations that she had plagiarised her June 25 speech in Parliament on “seven signs of fascism”, a video of which went viral. Moitra said the speech came “from the heart” and blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party’s “troll army” for propagating the charges to shield actual problems, PTI reported.
Moitra, whose first speech in the Parliament drew a lot of attention on social media, pointed out that plagiarism is when one does not divulge the source of the material. “My source as mentioned categorically in my speech was the poster from the Holocaust Museum [in Washington, DC] created by the political scientist Dr Laurence W Brit pointing out the 14 signs of early fascism,” she said in a statement. “I found seven signs relevant to India and spoke at length about each of them.”
Some users on Twitter had alleged that the lawmaker had lifted bits of her speech from a Washington Monthly article from January 2017, written by Martin Longman. The piece, titled “The 12 early warning signs of fascism”, was in reference to the United States administration under President Donald Trump. Longman also wrote that the signs were listed in the Holocaust Museum.
Martin Longman himself tweeted about the controversy: “I’m internet famous in India because a politician is being falsely accused of plagiarizing me.”
Longman also used an expletive for the right-wing, and said that “it’s kind of funny” that they “seem to be similar in every country”.
“My speech came from the heart and every Indian who has shared it did so from their heart,” PTI quoted Moitra as saying. “The hits were organic, not BOT controlled. I repeat.... ‘Bandhney mujhey tu aaya hai. zanjeer badi kya laya hai’ (you have come to chain me, are your shackles long enough)?”
BJP leader Vijay Chauthaiwale, on Monday tweeted a link to the original article, saying Moitra’s speech was “plagiarism at its worst”. “The famous speech by @Trinamool MP #MahuaMoitra which @sardesairajdeep praised was an article written by a US journalist on Trump in Jan 2017,” he said. “All she did was to juxtapose Modi in place of Trump. Plagiarism at its worst.”
Moitra, who is a former investment banker, is a first-time MP from West Bengal’s Krishnanagar.