TMC MP Mahua Moitra takes Zee News to court

Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra has filed a criminal defamation complaint against Zee News and its Editor-in-Chief Sudhir Chaudhary for alleging that her June 25 speech in Parliament on the ‘Seven Signs of Fascism’ was plagiarized. Metropolitan Magistrate Preeti Parewa took cognisance of the complaint and listed the matter for July 20, when Moitra’s statement would be recorded.

The advocate representing the MP told the Delhi court that her speech was inspired by a holocaust poster in a United States museum, containing 14 signs of early fascism. The counsel added that Moitra “clearly attributed” the source as she stated that the signs were taken from the said poster.

However, Chaudhary ran a broadcast stating that Mahua Moitra had plagiarised her “hate-filled speech” delivered in Parliament, the counsel said. Moitra had also submitted a breach of privilege motion against Chaudhary. However, it was rejected by the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.

Mahua Moitra had earlier expressed dismay over the plagiarism charges levelled against her and blamed the BJP’s “troll army” for the accusation

“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,” Moitra said in a statement. “I found 7 signs relevant to India and spoke at length about each of them.”

Tweets have been doing the rounds quoting a Washington Monthly article alleging that the TMC parliamentarian had lifted parts of her speech in the Lok Sabha from an article published on “12 early warning signs of fascism”, which referred to the US and President Donald Trump

The first-time MP from West Bengal’s Krishnanagar said the article quoted from the same poster that she had referred to in her speech

“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. I repeat…. ‘Bandhney mujhey tu aaya hai. Zanjeer badi kya laya hai’ (you have come to chain me, are your shackles enough)?” Moitra said.

The 42-year-old, who is a former investment banker, trended on social media after her speech on June 25 during a debate on the president’s address.

Background

Mahua Moitra, born on 5 May 1975, is an Indian politician and a member of parliament to the 17th Lok Sabha from Krishnanagar, West Bengal. She contested and won the seat in the 2019 Indian general election as a TMC candidate.

Moitra served as a member of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly representing Karimpur from 2016 to 2019, and has served as the general secretary and national spokesperson of the TMC for the past few years. She was an investment banker before entering politics.

Moitra went to school in Kolkata and later graduated in economics and mathematics from Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley in Massachusetts, United States.

Moitra worked as an investment banker for JPMorgan Chase in New York City and London. She quit her position as vice-president at JPMorgan Chase in London in 2009 to enter Indian politics.

Subsequently, she joined the Indian Youth Congress, the youth wing of the Indian National Congress party where she was one of the trusted hands of Rahul Gandhi in the project “Aam Admi Ka Sipahi”.

In 2010, she moved to the All India Trinamool Congress party. She was elected from the Karimpur constituency in Nadia district, West Bengal in the Legislative Assembly elections held in 2016.

On 10 January 2017, Moitra filed a police complaint against erstwhile Bharatiya Janata Party MP and Union Minister Babul Supriyo for allegedly “insulting her modesty” during a national television debate. A few days later, Babul Supriyo sent legal notices to Moitra and TMC MPs Saugata Roy and Tapas Paul for allegedly defaming him by accusing him of being involved in the Rose Valley ponzi firm scam.

In an interview with NewsX, Moitra discussed several aspects of her life. She spoke of a multicultural upbringing in Kolkata, recalling that her neighbours were Parsi and that she celebrated Nowruz with them. Moitra also revealed that she had lived in Scandinavia and that her former husband was Danish (financier Lars Brorson).

She expressed admiration for the Scandinavian education and healthcare system, claiming that her former husband’s mother had two government-provided carers looking after her for free.

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