Spanish author Javier Moro’s book on Congress president Sonia Gandhi, The Red Sari (El Sari Rojo in Spanish), appears to have got a second life.
In 2010, the Roli Books plan to publish the “dramatised biography” in India was stalled by protests from the party and threats of lawsuits. In 2015, however, the publisher is going ahead. Copies of the book are already in stores.
“In 2010, there was no official ban, but the circumstances created were such that we could not go ahead. The Spanish publishers of the book, Planeta, wrote to us saying that this is not the right time, and we don’t want the book to be published in India. After the change of government in May 2014, we wrote to them (Gandhi’s lawyers), asking them if they wanted to publish it now, and they gave us their consent,” said Pramod Kapoor, publisher, Roli Books.
The author, however, had a slightly different view: what’s basically changed, Moro said in an email from an airport in London, is that he “did not want to publish the book in India before publishing it in the US”.
While, “there never was a lawsuit, it played a part in the book not being printed in the sense that these lawyers scared the prospective English language publishers,” the writer said.
The book is described as a “dramatised biography” of Gandhi’s life — “The true story of a naïve young woman, confronted by the complicated and dangerous world of Indian politics.”
“Even then, I strongly felt that this is a story that should be told. Because she was a leader of a billion people, and this is a story of her struggle, there is nothing scandalous about it,” said Kapoor.
Moro said Gandhi’s lawyers objected “that I told her Italian background in detail. They want her to have been born in India, but that is quite difficult at this point”.