Indian lawmaker Naramalli Sivaprasad is known for dressing up to make a statement. The member of the Telugu Desam Party has repeatedly shown up to parliament in costume to protest Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s refusal to give his state more funds for development. Ensembles have included that of a magician, Hindu deity, folk dancer and schoolboy.
“Modi is the bad boy of the class,” Sivaprasad reportedly said in April, while holding a notebook, pencil and ruler, according to the Indian news site First Post.
On Thursday, the former film actor took his form of protest to another degree when he appeared in parliament dressed as Adolf Hitler, wearing a Nazi-style uniform and toothbrush mustache. Sivaprasad performed a Nazi salute for reporters and told them his outfit was a warning to Modi, according to the Associated Press.
"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,” Sivaprasad said impersonating Hitler, according to the Guardian.
“My suggestion to Modi is not to go down that way," he added.
The AP said the stunt did not spark any outrage among other legislators.
The impersonation of the German dictator responsible for the deaths of millions of people during World War II, including the extermination of approximately 6 million Jews, sparked little outrage in a country where Hitler is not as incendiary a topic as in other places. India has a history of using Hitler’s name for branding in stores, restaurants and television shows.
In 2012, a men’s clothing store called Hitler with a swastika displayed over the "i" opened in the state of Gujarat to international outrage. The shop’s owners said they did not name the store after the dictator but, rather, after one of their grandfathers, who earned the nickname “Hitler” for his strictness.
Hitler also appeared in a 2016 Indian children’s book about inspiring leaders alongside Modi, former U.S. president Barack Obama and former president of South Africa and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela.
The strange interest and at times admiration for Hitler could be because the Holocaust is not taught explicitly in many Indian schools. A 2015 U.N. study found Indian textbooks rarely used the term “Holocaust” when describing the events of World War II.
“Indians have never experienced what Hitler was, unlike the West and Russians,” Anirudh Deshpande, an associate professor of history at Delhi University, told the Guardian.