An MP in India has attended parliament dressed as Adolf Hitler to campaign for more funds for his state.
Naramalli Sivaprasad, an actor turned politician, frequently dresses up for parliamentary sittings. On Thursday, the Telegu Desam party MP appeared in a brown suit with a swastika armband and wore a narrow moustache.
He said the costume was meant to send a warning to the prime minister, Narendra Modi, to grant special economic assistance to his state of Andhra Pradesh.
“I started as a soldier in the German army and earned great respect,” he said, impersonating Hitler, “but I was greedy for power and as a result became responsible for World War II, which resulted in the death of several [tens of millions of] people and I also killed myself.”
He went on: “My suggestion to Modi is not to go down that way. He has already cheated Andhra Pradesh and [the state’s chief minister] Chandrababu Naidu. If he doesn’t repent then he will see his downfall.”
A clothes shop in Ahmedabad, India, in 2012.
The TDP broke away from Modi’s governing coalition in March in the row over funding for Andhra Pradesh, which has been pushing for special economic assistance.
Sivaprasad has previously appeared in parliament dressed as a farmer, a cattle herder and a Muslim cleric, and in women’s clothes to protest against Modi’s decision to withdraw high-value banknotes from circulation, which he said disproportionately hurt women.
Sivaprasad’s latest stunt sparked bemusement but little outrage in a country where Hitler does not carry the same inflammatory associations as elsewhere. An ice-cream brand, a cafe and several menswear shops around the country have been named after the Nazi dictator. Mugs and other merchandise bearing his image can be purchased on e-commerce sites.
“Indians have never experienced what Hitler was, unlike the west and Russians,” said Anirudh Deshpande, an associate professor of history at Delhi University. “Most are quite ignorant about him and the rest are adulatory, seeing him as a great nationalist who brought glory to his country, which makes him a hero in the eyes of many here.”
MS Golwalkar, who was a key ideological figure in the Hindu nationalist movement, praised Hitler and drew on his race theories in formulating his own idea of a Hindu rashtra, or nation, Deshpande said.
Although the Indian army was part of the allied forces that fought Nazism, Subhas Chandra Bose, a revered nationalist leader, met Hitler and sought his assistance to raise a force during the war to fight against British imperial control of his country.