This Article is From Feb 22, 2015

Thank you, Congress, Says Author of Sonia Gandhi Book

Thank you, Congress, Says Author of Sonia Gandhi Book

FILE: Congress President Sonia Gandhi at an election rally in Amethi in Uttar Pradesh (Reuters photo)

New Delhi:

Efforts by the Congress party to block the publication of a "dramatized" biography of its president Sonia Gandhi only stoked interest in the book, said author Javier Moro.

"The Red Sari", the English translation of the 2008 Spanish-language "El sari rojo", hit bookstands in India last week, seven months after the party was ousted after a decade in power.

"I'm thankful, because they gave me a fabulous free publicity campaign," said Mr Moro, speaking in Spanish about the protests against the book at an event in Delhi on Tuesday.

"The Red Sari" was ranked second among new releases on the Amazon India website's bestseller list on Wednesday.

Mr Moro wrote his book on Mrs Gandhi without her consent, calling it the "dramatized" biography of a public figure considered one of the world's most powerful women.

Congress party leaders had opposed the publication of the book in 2010 and threatened to take legal action. Mr Moro, an Indophile writer like his uncle Dominique Lapierre, said he stayed away from the country after his effigies were burned.

Mrs Gandhi, 68, has played a reduced public role since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party snatched power from the Congress in May.

Mr Moro said he was surprised there were no books available on the  Italian-born politician, who rose from obscurity after her marriage into the  Gandhi dynasty and was thrust into the limelight as the widow of an assassinated former premier.

Mrs Gandhi took over the reins of a floundering Congress party in 1998 and was credited as the architect of its unexpected triumph in national elections six years later. She declined to become prime minister, preferring to wield power from behind the scenes.

Among parts of the book that riled the Congress was the assertion that Mrs Gandhi had considered leaving India after her husband was killed in 1991.

Mr Moro said he did not know if Mrs Gandhi had read the book, adding that at their only meeting, she told him that the Gandhis never read what's written about them.

The 59-year-old writer, who won Spain's highest literary award in 2011, said he would never again write about a living person as it was too much trouble.

"I'll write about people who have been dead for a long time," Mr Moro said. "And whose lawyers are also totally dead."

© Thomson Reuters 2015