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http://www.overoll.com/Article/indiatoday.intoday.in/The-Sonia-story-Cong-doesnt-want-you-to-read/262515/2559323.newsThe Sonia story Cong d oesn't want you to readNeha Tara Mehta
It's as close as it gets to a hagiography, but Javier Moro's unauthorised biography of Sonia Gandhi, The Red Saree: When Life is The Price of Power, has triggered a war of words between the Congress and the Spanish writer that shows no signs of abating.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi, whose legal firm has issued a defamation notice to Moro, contends that the biography is "full of untruths, half-truths, falsehoods, defamatory statements, completely imaginary and invented conversations with quotation marks and narrations of nonexistent situations in the first person." That's an ironical reaction to what Moro admits is a " fictionalised biography" - parts of which are available with MAIL TODAY - which shows Sonia as a dutiful daughter-in-law, a fiercely loyal wife, a protective mother and a responsible elder sister-in-law to Maneka Gandhi. The English translation of the biography, which has sold over 200,000 copies in its Spanish original, is set for a year-end release in India.
Said Sonia Gandhi, "Hindi, a language that only servants speak."
Singhvi's objections are centred mainly around the passages that show Sonia wanting to go back to Italy with Rajiv and their children after the electoral drubbing Indira Gandhi got in 1977. In these passages, Moro resorts to the writer's device of reporting conversations as if he were present on the occasion.
He uses the same literary technique to recreate the pressure on Sonia from her mother, Paola Maino, and her elder sister, Anushka, to leave the country and settle down in their home town, Orbassano, near Turin in Italy, in the aftermath of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991. These passages haven't gone down well with the Congress, which is demanding a ban on the English translation.
In a disclaimer, which Moro insists is being carried in all new editions of the book in bold print on the opening page, he admits that " dialogues, conversations and situations found therein are the product of the author's own interpretation and do not necessarily reflect authenticity." Singhvi says Moro has backtracked on an agreement the two had had and not carried the disclaimer to help him sell his book to film studios.
Speaking from Madrid, Moro defends his book, saying, "I referred to work that's already in the public domain to write the conversations the Congress now has a problem with. Why didn't the party go after these books?" Moro names The Dynasty by Jad Adams and Philip Whitehead, Indira Gandhi: An Intimate Biography by Pupul Jayakar and Katherine Frank's Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi as his reference books. He also says he has had extensive conversations with the late Usha Bhagat, who used to be Indira Gandhi's social secretary, to recreate the contentious conversations.
Citing the tolerance of public figures in the West to biographical works based on their lives, Moro asks, " Would Queen Elizabeth have sued Stephen Frears for making the film, The Queen ? On the contrary, she congratulated him." These arguments don't wash with the Congress.
Singhvi is emphatic that this isn't an issue of freedom of speech or censorship. "This is about invading the privacy of an individual for commercial gain," he says.
As of now, both parties are not prepared to back down from their stated positions. So what are the passages of contention? Here are excerpts from the book that tell the story the Congress does not want to see the light of day.Related stories:1) Congress's Target @ http://www.indianexpress.com/news/latest-target-for-congress-censors-book-on-sonias-life/628265/2) Javier to Sue Singhvi @ http://news.oneindia.in/2010/06/06/moro-to-sue-singhvi-over-the-red-saree-remarks.html3) Sonia's Links @ http://indiaview.wordpress.com/2008/04/30/ltte-sonia-link/
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