Latest target for Congress censors: book on Sonia's life

The Congress's censorship goes on. After objecting to certain parts of Prakash Jha's movie Rajneeti, the party is now up in arms against Madrid-based writer Javier Moro's novel based on its president Sonia Gandhi's life.

The Spanish book is called El Sari Rojo (The Red Sari, subtitled When Life is the Price of Power), a reference to the red sari Sonia wore on her wedding day, “one that Nehru wove while he was in jail”. First published in October 2008, the book has already been translated into Italian, French and Dutch, and an English translation by Peter Hearn is ready for publication.

And the trouble has begun for The Red Sari.

In an email, Moro, 55, said that Sonia's lawyers, including Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi, “have just written to my Italian and Spanish publishers to demand the withdrawal of the book from the stores. Nobody understands very well why, but that's what they are up to”.

Moro thinks that the Congress leaders “did not like the recreation of her life in Italy as told in my book”.

Singhvi, who said he was handling the legal matter for Sonia and who affirmed that Sonia was aware of the issue, said: “It is time Moro stopped distorting facts and misrepresenting details. He knows well that both he and his publishers have been sent legal notices informing them that the published work is completely unauthorised, defamatory and salacious.”

When pointed out that the book is a novel, not a biography, Singhvi replied, “There is no question of fictionalising a living person.”

The novel which, according to Moro's website, has already sold 2,30,000 copies in Spain and Latin America, opens on May 24, 1991, with Rajiv Gandhi's coffin “lying in the great hall of Teen Murti House”.

“Now it is time to say goodbye,” Moro writes. “Sonia places an offering on the body over the heart. It is made of camphor, cardamom, cloves and sugar and it's supposed to help remove the imperfections of the soul.... Through the television cameras, the world discovers this stoic woman who reminds everyone of Jacqueline Kennedy twenty-eight years before in Arlington.”

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