Moitra highlighted the seven signs of fascism in the context of the last five years of the Narendra Modi-led BJP government saying, “You may say, acche din are here and the sun will never set on this Indian empire that this Government is seeking to build. But, then you are missing the signs. If you only would open your eyes, you would see that there are signs everywhere that this country is torn apart.”
However, several media outlets have since accused Moitra of having plagiarised her speech.
This claim was first given platform by Zee News, whose editor-in-chief Sudhir Chaudhary, ran a “DNA test” on her speech. Chaudhary said his “research” found that her speech was a “copy paste” job and that Moitra did not deem it fit to crosscheck if her speech was “copied”.
Chaudhary tweeted photos of an article written by Martin Longman titled “The 12 Early Warning Signs of Fascism” published on the Washington Monthly. He accused Moitra of stealing from this article.
Swarajyamag.com followed suit. In an article titled “Shrill Speech By Trinamool MP Mahua Moitra Praised By Liberals Now Faces Plagiarism Charges”, it said, “While the speech was already being criticised in various quarters for peddling hysteria and doomsday, a fresh charge of plagiarism has been levelled against Moitra.”
Yes, Moitra did borrow from a list that Longman mentions in his article. But, if one listens to her entire speech (read the full text here), they would know that she clearly mentions during her speech: “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 featured in that poster.”
Listen between 9:21 and 9:39.
As the debate about the originality of Moitra’s speech continued back in India, Longman tweeted:
Moitra responded to the allegations of plagiarism, quoting Longman’s tweet.
“Martin Longman vo aap jaise press ke baare mein abhi kya bataya hai, vo aap padh lijiye,” she said while referring to Longman’s tweet.
Moitra also clarified in a statement that the list was originally made by Laurence W. Brit.
NDTV quoted her as saying, “Plagiarism is when one does not disclose one’s source. My source as mentioned categorically in my speech was the poster from the Holocaust Museum created by the political scientist Dr. Laurence W. Brit pointing out the 14 signs of early fascism. I found 7 signs relevant to India and spoke at length about each of them.”
The list was originally created by Brit in 2003 for an article published in the Free Inquiry Magazine. Brit’s list was subsequently adapted by Longman for his article in the Washington Monthly.
Moitra submitted a breach of privilege motion against Zee TV and its editor Sudhir Chaudhary for falsely accusing her of plagiarism, which Lok Sabhha speaker Om Birla disallowed.