Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra on Thursday submitted a breach of privilege motion in the Lok Sabha against Zee TV and its editor Sudhir Chaudhary for allegedly falsely reporting her first address in the Lower House on June 25. However, Speaker Om Birla did not allow the motion, reported ANI.
“Sir, under Rule 225, I have given a breach of privilege notice against Zee TV and its editor, Sudhir Chaudhary for falsely reporting my maiden address in this august House,” Moitra said on Thursday while speaking in the Lok Sabha.
On Wednesday, Moitra had dismissed allegations that she had plagiarised her speech on “seven signs of fascism”, which had gone viral. Moitra said the speech came “from the heart” and blamed the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s “troll army” for propagating the charges to shield actual problems.
Moitra, whose June 25 speech in the Parliament drew a lot of attention on social media, pointed out that plagiarism was 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 political scientist Dr Laurence W Brit pointing out the 14 signs of early fascism,” she had said. “I found seven signs relevant to India and spoke at length about each of them. My speech came from the heart and every Indian who has shared it did so from their heart. The hits were organic, not BOT controlled.”
Some critics had claimed that Moitra lifted parts 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.
Zee TV editor Chaudhary had tweeted the original article to claim that Moitra’s speech was plagiarised. “This is the article from the American website which Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra copied/plagiarised in her speech,” he had said on Twitter. “She has lifted the words directly from the article. The honour of a Parliamentarian is in danger.”
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vijay Chauthaiwale, on Monday also had tweeted a link to the original article, claiming 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.”
Martin Longman himself tweeted about the controversy: “I’m internet famous in India because a politician is being falsely accused of plagiarizing me.” He 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”.
Moitra, who is a former investment banker, is a first-time MP from West Bengal’s Krishnanagar.