Bloomsbury withdraws ex-AI official’s book to save Praful ‘embarrassment’

The author said he stands by whatever he wrote in the book, which charts the decline of Air India.

New Delhi | Updated: January 16, 2014 1:25:28 am

Bloomsbury publishing India has withdrawn all copies of The Descent of Air India, a book authored by Jitendra Bhargava, and has extended an apology to former civil aviation minister Praful Patel.

The author, a former executive director with the state-owned carrier, however, said he stands by whatever he wrote in the book, which charts the decline of Air India and attributes this to policies driven by several persons, including the then aviation minister and present Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel and the then AI chairman and managing director V Thulasidas.

Less than a month after the book was released in October last year, Patel had filed a criminal defamation suit against Bhargava and Bloomsbury in a Mumbai court. Sources said the publishers agreed to apologise to Patel last week. On Wednesday, it apologised to Patel through a public notice.

“…In the said book, the author has made certain comments about Mr Praful Patel… If the contents of the book have caused any embarrassment to Mr Patel, we sincerely regret the same as it was never our intention to discredit him in any manner. We shall immediately withdraw the book from the market and destroy its stock available with us,” it said.

E-mail and text messages sent Wednesday evening to Rajiv Beri, MD, Bloomsbury India, did not elicit a response.
But Bhargava said he will reproduce the book since its copyright was in his name. “This decision of Bloomsbury was unilateral…. I will reproduce the book,” he said in an e-mail response.

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