Myth created by BJP about divided opposition. Where it matters, Oppn is united: Sitaram Yechury

Sitaram Yechury has been re-elected as CPI(M) General Secretary after intense inner-party struggle over the political line his party should take vis-a-vis Congress in the fight against BJP. He has managed to bring the party behind him though the issue of relationship with Congress remained a bone of contention for the past ten months. Yechury talks about present political situation.

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India is entering into the election year. Where does the Opposition stands now?

A completely mistaken discourse is taking place now. Election in India is the summation of specifics and not an electoral monolith as a whole. Various parties have various degrees of influences in various parts of the country. It is region-specific and not country-specific. For example in Uttar Pradesh, if SP and BSP come together, neither the Congress nor the Left or anybody else is of much consequence. In Bihar, if the RJD and the Yadav-Muslim combination gel through various political processes, then others are not much of a consequence. In south India, apart from Karnataka, Congress is not the major player. So, what is happening is actually a degree of coming together of various parties at the regional level. You saw the beginning in UP and the bypoll results. You also saw the bypoll result in Bihar. Same is the case with Karnataka. It will be a summation of all these things that is happening at the regional level.

This brings to the question of talks about a Federal Front. How is it different from what you are saying?

We must understand the Indian reality. You look at our own history. I am not going back to the times of Janata Party or VP Singh government. In 1996, the United Front (UF) government was formed after the elections. After the fall of Vajpayee government in 13 days, the UF was formed on the basis of a Common Minimum Programme (CMP) and the Left supported from outside. The Front itself was formed after the elections. In 2004, the UPA came into existence after the elections. There was no UPA before the elections. Again on the basis of a CMP, we extended our support from outside. So that is the Indian reality. It is not mere historical trend.

In such a scenario, who will take leadership role? What role does Congress have?

It depends on post election scenario. In 1996, Congress lost the elections and therefore, it supported the UF from outside. Congress could not enter the government through the back-door. They could not form the government because they did not get the majority. Therefore, others formed the government with Congress supporting from outside. In 2004, Congress was the single largest party among the Opposition. So they led the government. It all finally depends on the numbers. Who will be the leader? It depends on the numbers one gets from the support they receive from people.

Where does CPI(M) stand in these scheme of things?

The CPI(M) scheme of things goes much beyond elections. We are determined to further strengthen our party and our political intervention capacity. Our objective is to consolidate CPI(M) as a revolutionary party with a pan-Indian mass influence. We will work for strengthening the unity of Left forces and forge a unity of left and democratic forces to offer a policy alternative to the people. This will be done through unleashing national popular struggles.

We are clear that the RSS-BJP government has to be ousted. That was the main call of our Party Congress. We have said that we shall not enter into any political alliance with Congress. That has been our historical truth. We were neither part of the UF or UPA governments. As I always said, we do not believe in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), but if at all there is IPR for outside support, it is CPI(M)’s. The question of entering into any alliance does not exist. At the time of elections, appropriate electoral tactics will be worked out to maximise the anti-BJP votes. For example, in Karnataka, we are contesting 19 seats. We will support the candidates of Left parties wherever they have put candidates. Where the Left is not contesting, the call the party has given is to defeat the BJP. It could be Congress, it could be JD(S), depending on the constituency. Then local party unit will decide. But the call is to defeat the BJP. That is one example. Similarly, we will work out our tactics.

How does that political picture change with the CPI(M) Party Congress now omitting a clause that said there should be no understanding with Congress party?

As far as post poll arrangements are concerned, there can be absolute clarity that we can extend an issue-based support to a non-BJP government. The ‘no understanding’ clause had left the ambiguity whether we will be able to support if the Congress is there. That is the take-away from the Party Congress. That was a bone of contention for 10 months. In the pre-poll scenario, suppose we are going with a regional formation, which has an alliance with Congress. I am looking at the possibility of a scenario of the past. I don’t know about the future. The past is Tamil Nadu. We supported DMK or AIADMK depending on who is supporting the BJP. Now that particular party is already in an alliance with Congress. So no understanding would have created problems. If we are making electoral adjustments with regional parties, the seats we fight, the seats Congress fights, there will be consultations. No understanding means no consultations. Now that ambiguity is also not there.

Does it mean the doors are open for seat adjustments with Congress in some states?

Now, it is all speculation. There are various possibilities. There could be, let’s say, mutual no-contest. There won’t be any joint campaigning. They won’t be entering into any alliance. But say, we contest two-three seats. They don’t put up a candidate. That is one possibility. I am not saying this will happen.

The Opposition move to impeach Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has been stone-walled. How do you see this situation?

One of the reasons why we are saying that this government should go is that the impunity with which they are destroying all Constitutional authorities and the mechanism that we had in place for seven decades. No confidence motion was not allowed to be tabled and discussed in Lok Sabha itself is a gross violation. For three weeks, it was not allowed. Now rejecting the impeachment motion outright, we think, is a gross irregularity. Because presiding officer of the House does not have the right to decide on the merits of an impeachment motion. That can be done only after an enquiry by a three-member committee as laid down by the Constitution. That committee will give report and if it says that the charges in the petition are untenable, then you reject it. But before going through that process and rejecting it is clearly not merely an overreach of authority but smacks of certain motives. Because once the enquiry committee is put in place and it begins the process, then morally the concerned judge does not have the right to be on a bench or hear a matter.

Only seven of the 18 Opposition parties have signed the impeachment motion? Doesn’t it show that the Opposition is divided?

Division in opposition is again a myth created by the BJP. Where it matters, the opposition is united. SP-BSP is united and it matters in UP. RJD did not sign. Will it stop the unity that is happening in Bihar against BJP. This is also sort of a post-truth society being created. Like creating non-issues as issues of unity and disunity of opposition.

The CPI(M)’s Political Organisation Report placed in Party Congress had said that Tripura results show that CPI(M)’s political, organisational and ideological fight against RSS is “inadequate”. How do you overcome this?

The point is that RSS cannot be defeated through elections alone. If that was the case, for 70 years after Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, RSS should have been a completely marginalised force. They would not have survived and comeback with this sort of support. There has to be an ideological offensive against them. We also have to defeat their organisational methods. That can only be done through sharpening people mobilisation and struggles against what they espouse as well as their policies when they are in government. That is of first vital importance. Secondly, we need to actually counter their influence in various levels in which they spread their tentacles. They have a tentacle of organisations through which they continuously spread the virus of communalism. All that have to be combated at all levels.

Today, what is happening in our country. How else will you describe the child rapes and the gruesome murders? Nothing else can explain but the complete dehumanising of the Indian society. It is leading to such an irrational extent when even the lawyers are not taking up cases like it happened in Kathua. The ministers who are being sworn under oath of this very Constitution openly talk in terms of violation of the Constitution and protecting criminals. What is happening is ideological attack of irrationality on rationality, it is an ideological attack of unreason on reason. Now this has to be ideologically combated and defeated. Otherwise, mythology can be passed off as history. That is what they are doing. You and I may think what Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb said is bad. But when people are subjected to such onslaught, they start accepting it. They are seeking to replace the syncretic Indian history with Hindu mythology, replace the rich pluralistic Indian philosophy with Hindu theology. Every single TV serial talk about obscurantism, religions and religiosity. You start believing the absurd. That is the real danger that has to be combated. They are seeking to replace the syncretic Indian history with Hindu mythology, replace the rich pluralistic Indian philosophy with Hindu theology.

Another observation in the Political Organisation Report is that it is discouraging that the representation of Muslims, Dalits, youths in CPI(M) are declining. How do you address this issue?

What we mean by discouraging is the entry into the leadership positions. That is what is declining and not in terms of their numbers in the party. You should correct that distortion. They are coming in large numbers. You will find Dalits and Muslims in leadership positions at the lower level. But that is not reflected in the leadership at higher levels. It is not happening in the way we would want it to happen. We have two women, two Muslims in the Polit Bureau. But there are no Dalits. Why? 70% of the leadership in states are Dalits and OBCs together. Sometimes it is 90% if you add Muslims to it. But the question is why they are not coming up? This is the serious question we will have to address. There are various reasons. One is the question of economic factor. As party whole-timers, how much we pay, whether they are in a position to maintain their family or not. Normally, the whole timers come into this leadership positions. That is a serious point we will have to address. Otherwise we will have this distortion. Why is it not reflected in the higher leadership? We will have to seriously address this issue. We have to see whether there are any other factors. The desire is that they have to come.

There is a perception that though you have been re-elected, the central leadership is still stacked against you. How do you respond to this?

I don’t see this in terms of a fight between numbers or who is on which side. The point is as a Communist, I have the conviction that my own committees and my own comrades will react to the objective situation. What is the objective situation? What is that we decided at Hyderabad? That is there in black and white. Now the question is to actually implement that, take it forward. Now in that if anybody seeks to create a problem, there is no ambiguity left now. Therefore, with the clarity achieved in Hyderabad, I don’t think there is any question of comrades being on this side or that side. That is why when people said you have won and they have lost, I said nobody has won, nobody has lost. Only party has won. That is the bottom denominator. I sincerely believe the party has won.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald print edition and full text in website in May  2018)

Also read

Sitaram Speaks: https://sheminjoy.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/sitaram-speaks/

There will be winds of change: https://sheminjoy.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/there-will-be-winds-of-change-yechury-on-assembly-polls/

Oppn has to get together with a policy alternative: https://sheminjoy.wordpress.com/2017/12/30/oppn-has-to-get-together-with-a-policy-alternative-yechury/

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CPM opens door to Cong

Junking the line propagated by a faction led by Prakash Karat, the CPI(M) on Friday open doors to an electoral “understanding” with Congress to defeat BJP as delegates found reason with General Secretary Sitaram Yechury’s line.

However, the party will not enter into any political alliance with Congress as per the amended political resolution adopted at the ongoing Party Congress in Hyderabad while allowing seat adjustments with the Rahul Gandhi-led party.

The reversal in stand comes as a huge victory for Yechury, which comes after months of intense inner-party struggle with both the factions pitted against each other. While Bengal unit was supporting Yechury, the Kerala unit was supporting Karat’s line.

The draft resolution, which was cleared by the Karat faction-dominated Central Committee earlier this year, had said that the “main task”of defeating BJP “has to be done without having an understanding or electoral alliance” with the Congress. While not supporting an “alliance” with Congress, Yechury has been arguing that the party should not close its door and be flexible in states where CPI(M) is not strong.

At the Party Congress, the formulation “has to be done without having an understanding or electoral alliance” was omitted. It now reads, “but this has to be done without having a political alliance with the Congress party”.

The scales tilted in favour of Yechury as at least 16 states demanded a secret ballot on political resolution though usually the voting in Party Conference is held by raising of hands. Several delegates felt that many could not vote according to their individual choice as it could go against their state unit’s stand like as that of Kerala.

While delegates from Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Goa, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat stood with Yechury and the demand for a secret ballot, many delegates from Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Haryana too toes this line.

This prompted a section of the leadership to find a middle path following which Karat faction accepted to omit the formulation of the draft resolution.

With the triennial conference ending on Sunday, the next battle will be the election to the Central Committee. With the existing Central Committee and Polit Bureau heavily loaded with Karat supporters, it is to be seen whether Yechury gets a panel that goes by his line.

The Political Organisation Report placed before the conference talked about the differences among Polit Bureau members on the political line adopted and it affected the political and organisational interventions.

 

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Apr 21, 2018)

What next for Kejriwal and AAP?

After its humiliating defeat in Punjab, Goa and now in Delhi, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) faces a tough challenge ahead to reclaim the lost glory.

Several questions – from whether AAP would tweak its go-alone strategy to will it bring back old AAP hands who left them – arise as the party stares at a possible challenge to the leadership, including Kejriwal.

Though one cannot write AAP’s obituary yet, the recent Rajouri Garden bypoll where its candidate lost his deposit in a sitting seat and the civic poll results indicate that the AAP has squandered its hard-earned political capital based on people-centric politics in less than five years of its formation. The latest drubbing comes two months after its ambition of winning Punjab and Goa Assembly elections took a beating.

The AAP leadership is putting up a brave face by singing the “EVM manipulation” tune for the humiliating defeat but the one question that is troubling the party is the strategy it should adopt to win back the confidence of Delhi voters, who have have already given ample indication to AAP to shed its confrontational politics.

Another demon the AAP, once a middle-class darling, has to fight is its image of leaving the Delhi battle field for greener pastures like Punjab where the party discreetly floated the idea of Kejriwal becoming Chief Minister or fielding Rajouri Garden MLA Jarnail Singh there after making him resign here.

It is also to be seen whether AAP is now willing to do business with other opposition parties. AAP may not be willing to work with Congress but may be ready for a fight alongside the third front parties like the Left, Janata Dal (United) or Trinamool Congress. Kejriwal has already hinted that he wants an alliance of “good people” to fight the BJP when he met CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here last week.

The initial reactions from the AAP leadership appeared to be of stubbornness but the next step of Kejriwal and AAP is keenly watched. It would determine the course AAP, once a middle-class darling, would take to reinvent itself.

The poor show in civic polls in Delhi, where the party was born in November 26, 2012 following a more than one year stunning anti-corruption agitation, has ignited murmurs of dissent in the party already though top leadership is pinning the blame on “manipulation” of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

AAP’s Lok Sabha MP Bhagwant Singh Mann, the party’s Chief Ministerial candidate in Punjab, did not mince words when he questioned the poll strategy and blaming the EVMs for its defeat in Punjab. Others are silent now but it is to be seen how Kejriwal stems the dissent in the party amid AAP leaders claiming that BJP is trying to woo its MLAs. Already one of the MLAs have resigned and joined the party.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald’s website on Apr 26, 2017)

Delhi civic polls crucial for AAP, Cong, BJP

Next Sunday (Apr 23), Delhiites will once again queue-up in front of polling booths. This time, they will be choosing 272 councillors in three civic bodies — East, South and North Delhi municipal corporations. All the three principal political players in the capital — AAP, BJP and Congress — are sharpening their knives for a fight-to-finish and cement their place of prominence. The civic election also comes at a crucial time in national politics when BJP is on an ascendance while opposition parties appear to be in disarray.

If BJP is sensing victory in all the three corporations riding on its resounding bypoll win in Rajouri Garden last week, Congress and AAP are not willing to concede it that easily. Will it be a “sweep” for BJP, the main opposition in Delhi, or a “comeback” for a decimated Congress or a “rout” for ruling AAP in the capital? Will the results be a boost to the opposition benches and uplift its morale to take on the Narendra Modi-led regime? Only the counting of votes on April 26 will reveal what is in Delhiites’ minds.

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For Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP, it will be an opportunity to prove that the electoral victory in the past two Assembly elections were not a one-off incident while for BJP and Congress, which once ruled the capital, the question is of resurgence. BJP had won just four seats out of 70 in the 2015 Assembly polls while Congress lost all it contested, even the bypoll earlier this month.

The AAP believes that it will win the three municipal bodies on Kejriwal government’s performance and anti-incumbency against BJP, which is currently ruling the three corporations. But the Rajouri Garden results where its candidate was relegated to third position and forfeiting deposit has come as wake-up call for the party. The result, even some in AAP believe, is possibly a holding of mirror to the party’s confrontationist politics.

But AAP leaders say the going has never been easy for them with the Modi-led Centre and BJP always putting spanner in its efforts to develop Delhi. It accuses the BJP of playing dirty politics as one of MLAs resigning and joining the saffron party. The party, which rode to power on anti-corruption plank, faces allegation of nepotism and graft with recently publicised Shunglu Committee finding irregularities in decisions taken by it. Its leaders and MLAs are facing a host of cases investigated by CBI while it is on a collision course with the Lieutenant Governor, whom they accuse of obstructing its work. Reports also suggest there is widespread discontentment among MLAs on the functioning of Kejriwal and AAP. For AAP, other challenges will be from friend-turned-foe Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav’s Swaraj Abhiyan and JD(U). Though they may not be big players, they can be irritant to the AAP by clinching some votes from its base.

Though it is battling the negative image, AAP has not left the battle ground. It is putting up a brave face despite the Rajouri Garden drubbing. Its political think tanks are working overnight to woo voters. Whether its promise of abolition of property tax hit a chord with voters could be known only after counting, it did have an effect on BJP with its manifesto promising no tax proposals in the next five years.

If Kejriwal drives AAP bandwagon, BJP is trying to leverage on the recent Assembly results, particularly the Uttar Pradesh win. The bypoll victory is a morale booster for the party, which is facing anti-incumbency in three corporations. The saffron party is experimenting with new faces. BJP chief Amit Shah has not left the election management to local leaders and his decision not to give tickets to sitting councillors did touch a raw nerve but the party has managed to nip any rebellion in the bud.

The saffron party is also fielding top leaders in the campaign. For BJP, it is not distinguishing civic polls with state or general elections. All elections are fought to win. The recent victories in Mumbai and Odisha civic polls have enthused the cadre and a win now, they believe, would be a stepping stone to the next Assembly elections. They also have to be battle ready as the Election Commission is yet to decide on the petition to disqualify 21 AAP MLAs on office of profit charges.

The biggest challenge is for Congress, as a victory or at least an impressive show is needed for the party to regain its confidence in the capital and sent a positive signal to its workers that all has not been lost after the electoral setback in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Congress is batting on a difficult pitch but hopes are high this time after they smell a return to the Delhi mainstream. They have won five of the 10 wards in bypolls last year while AAP could win three and BJP two.

Congress did dramatically improve its vote share in Rajouri Garden though it lost to BJP. But the silver lining for Congress was that it managed to get the better of AAP. It has fielded its central leaders from P Chidambaram to Jairam Ramesh to campaign and prepare a vision document for the city that addresses chronic civic issues. However, Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken’s style of functioning has become a bone of contention among senior leaders in the capital like former Minister A K Walia who came out in the open against him for ignoring his choices.

Whatever the political outcome and its consequences, Delhiites would expect better civic amenities from the victorious team. Sanitation is one big issue that is yet to be seeing a resolution. Big talks are there but nothing happens. The BJP has been ruling the civic body for past two terms while Congress and AAP have been at the helm of state government during this period. Routinely, they pass the buck. What Delhiites need is not shifting responsibility but a responsive civic body that deals with their basic needs.

(An edited version  appeared in Deccan Herald’s Panorama section on Apr 19, 2017)

AAP jolted in Delhi’s Rajouri Garden

The Aam Aadmi Party was in for a rude jolt on Thursday (Apr 13)when it lost its sitting seat in Delhi to BJP in an Assembly bypoll, that too by losing deposit, just before a crucial civic polls in the capital.

BJP’s Manjinder Singh Sirsa won the Rajouri Garden seat by a margin of 14,652 with Congress’ Meenakshi Chandela, a sitting councillor from the area, came second pushing AAP’s Harjeet Singh to the third.

AAP could clock only 10,243 votes, which is less than one-sixth of the votes polled to secure deposit, compared to 2015 elections when it got 54,916 votes and won the seat.

In a quick reaction, AAP senior leader and Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the results showed that there is “need to revisit people connect”.

With this, BJP’s number in the Assembly has risen to four in a House of 70. One seat is vacant as an AAP MLA resigned and joined BJP recently. Congress has no MLAs in the current Assembly.

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The bypoll was necessitated after AAP’s sitting MLA Jarnail Singh resigned to contest against the then Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in Lumbi in the Assembly elections there recently. Singh lost to Badal.

Sisodia said it appeared that people were unhappy with Jarnail Singh’s decision to go to punjab and contest election.

BJP is upbeat as it is continuing its winning streak in the recent Assembly elections while Congress could be relieved that it is back in business after the inglorious defeat with no seats in the Assembly which it ruled for 15 years till 2013.

The Congress is a bit upset but not unhappy as they believe that they are back in the political game in the national capital.

The results will give more trouble for AAP as it is in the midst of another electoral war against BJP and Congress to wrest control of three municipal corporations in Delhi where the polls is scheduled for April 23. Losing a sitting seat would put pressure on the leadership, including Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, and their electoral strategy to make Jarnail resign and contest Punjab polls.

Jarnail had won in 2013 and 2015 polls and in the last polls, he pipped Sirsa. An initial analysis of votes showed that those who supported AAP in 2013 and 2015 elections did not come out to vote, apparently in anger over the resignation of the sitting MLA. Around 45% voted in this seat this time while it was 72.12% in 2015.

Sirsa, who belongs to NDA ally Akali Dal and contested in BJP symbol, and Chandela had contested in the 2015 too but lost to Jarnail, who rose to limelight after he threw a shoe at the then Union Minister P Chidambaram at a press conference in protest against Congress giving seats to anti-Sikh riots case accused.

This time, Sirsa emerged winner with 40,602 votes while Chandela, who got 14,167 votes in the previous polls, improved her position to 25,950 votes.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald’s web edition on Apr 13, 2017)

TMC’s tightrope walking in times of CBI probes

Trinamool Congress’ walkout just before a crucial vote on Finance Bill in Rajya Sabha has set tongues wagging even as party leaders insist that it is a message to Congress over its proximity to the Left parties.

The Trinamool MPs, who had amendments in their names to be moved in the Finance Bill on Tuesday, did not wait for their turn to press for the amendments and walked out amidst the voting was on.

While a section in the opposition sought to read it as Trinamool’s efforts to cosy up to the BJP following the Supreme Court directing a CBI probe into Narada sting operation, its leaders point out to its uneasiness over Congress cosying up to the CPI(M)-led Left Front in West Bengal.

Trinamool Congress sources said they intended to sent a message to the Congress during the voting that they cannot take the party for granted in the name of Opposition unity.

The Mamata Banerjee-led party, which was in the forefront of demonetisation protests, was upset with Congress over its protests on Narada sting operation and its warm relationship with the Left.

The Congress floor managers in the Rajya Sabha had approached Trinamool Congress leaders to vote in favour of amendments moved by Opposition. However, surprised Congress leaders are trying to find fault with the Trinamool Congress, saying the party is in a bind over the CBI probes against its leaders and that was why it walked out.

Trinamool sources rubbish the claim, saying it was clear that their walk out would not have saved the government. “Everyone knew that Trinamool walkout will not save the government from embarrassment. We knew that our walkout will not affect the Opposition game plan. Then, why did that? We had a plan. We wanted to send a message to Congress,” a senior elader said.

Like Congress, CPI(M) also has refused to buy this argument. CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said the Trinamool did this to save itself from the probes against it.

“The CBI is probing the Narada sting where its MPs were seen taking money. It is trying to cut a deal with the BJP. The walkout was to send a message to BJP that they are willing to do business,” Yechury told reporters.

“The Trinamool is now seen as compromised. It’s bargaining power has been checkmated on both sides,” he added.

(Mar 30, 2017)

Cong oppn to Red Sari showed decadence: Moro

Javier Moro

The Congress’ opposition to the “dramatised” biography of its presidenty Sonia Gandhi showed signs of “decadence” even four years ago though his book portrayed her in “good light”, author Javier Moro said on Saturday.

The book ‘The Red Sari: A Dramatised Biography of Sonia Gandhi’, which could not be published in 2010 owing to Congress’ opposition, has hit the stands a couple of days ago and publishers claim that it is sold out already.

“I never thought the book when it was published in Europe, the reaction of the Congress would be such that they created a scandal. But this only says about the state of the party at that time,” Moro, the nephew of well-known writer Dominique Lapierre, told reporters.

He said the book is not a political or historical account of Gandhi’s life and his only aim was to tell the story of a “remarkable lady from Italy”, who came from humble beginnings to become one of the most powerful leaders in India.

The book was first published in Spanish ‘El Sari Rojo: Cuando la vida es el precio del poder” in 2008 but it attracted attention when an English translation was to hit Indian stands in 2010. Gandhi’s lawyers had then served Moro a legal notice, alleging that the book contained “untruths, half truths, falsehoods and defamatory statements”.

Asked about his views on Congress’ reaction to his book four years ago, “why they were so intolerent? I think they were decadent. It was the sign that things were not going well. They mismanaged it.”

He also rebutted allegations that he invented conversations saying, his book is only recreating the life of a person in a dramatic way.

Red sari

“I still wonder why Congress was against publishing it. The whole issue was blown out of proportion by poor PR people of Congress,” he said.

He also claimed Congress wanted to project her as a “marble figure or an idol” which cannot be approached easily.

Pramod Kapoor, founder-publisher of Roli Books, said certain pressures were out and conditions were made so difficult that they could not publish it in 2010. “But the situation changed with the change in government last year and we decided to go head,” he said but added that Roli was never told not to publish the book in 2010.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Jan 18, 2015)

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