Moro`s book: BJP says Cong against press freedom
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Last Updated: Thursday, June 03, 2010, 20:41
  
New Delhi: BJP today criticised Congress for protesting against Spanish writer's 'fictional' book on Sonia Gandhi and said the ruling party was stifling right to freedom of speech.

The party's criticism comes less than a year after it expelled Jaswant Singh for authoring a book on Pakistan founder M A Jinnah.

"A book by Javier Moro is of late in the news and amid controversy. We do not want to comment on the substance of the book. But, the whole incident cannot be seen in isolation. I would request Congress to respect right to free speech and freedom of press," BJP Chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

Moro's book, which he claims is a work of fiction, is at the centre of a controversy for making claims that the protagonist wanted to leave India after her husband was killed. Congress leaders have strongly protested against several other claims made by Moro in the book.

Prasad also mentioned a yet-to-be released movie 'Rajneeti'- which has courted controversy due to its alleged resemblance to the life of the Gandhi family. He said Congress members in the Censor Board had "forced cuts" in the movie.

The BJP maintained that such acts of Congress reminded it of the National Emergency days when there was "press censorship and several senior editors were arrested".

Moro's novel EL Saro Rojo (The Red Saree) was first published in Spanish in October 2008 and has been translated in Italian, French and Dutch.

Interestingly, BJP has itself shown lack of tolerance in similar circumstances in the recent past.

It had expelled Singh at the party's 'Chintan Baithak' (brainstorming session) at Shimla in last August for writing 'Jinnah: India, Partition and Independence' which holds Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel responsible for partition while praising Jinnah as "secular".

The BJP government in Gujarat had promptly banned the book after Singh's expulsion. However, Prasad insisted today that BJP had not banned the book.

He conceded that BJP felt that contents of Singh's book did not match the ideological beliefs of the party, and this had led to his expulsion.

When informed that 'Parzania'- a movie on Gujarat riots of 2002 - was also banned by Gujarat, Prasad said this was incorrect and only some local cinema hall owners had decided not to screen it.

Arguing that the erstwhile BJP-led NDA regime stood for right to free speech, the Rajya Sabha MP said after the Parliament attack of December 13, 2001, a human rights activist had authored a book claiming the attack was "fake" but the government of the day did not ostracise him.

"In a democracy, it is our duty to respect right to free speech and freedom of the press," Prasad said.

PTI


First Published: Thursday, June 03, 2010, 20:41


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