Moro`s book: BJP says Cong against press freedom

Last Updated: Thursday, June 3, 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

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.


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First Published: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 20:41

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