Sonia Gandhi had the chance to read and offer inputs for her 'dramatised biography', The Red Sari, but chose not to do so, said the author of the controversial book that was kept off shop shelves for five years because of Congress opposition.
Spanish author Javier Moro's publisher Roli books launched this week the 429-page book that had incensed Congress party members who said it was riddled with lies. The 'fictionalised' biography traces Gandhi's life from her childhood in Italy to 2004, when the UPA formed the government.
"Sonia had her chance to read the book and suggest inputs but she was not interested," Moro said at a Jaipur Literature Festival session, Romance, Tragedy and Truth Telling: The Red Sari and Other Stories.
"We don't read what is written about us," Moro recalled Gandhi telling him during their meeting at Rashtrapati Bhawan in 2008, when he offered to read a draft of the book to the politician.
The author said demonstrations against the book contributed immensely to its publicity. "If you look at images of my burning effigy outside the Spanish embassy in Delhi, it looks like my publisher hired them. I could have never achieved such popularity on my own. It was stupid on their part to do that," he said.
The 59-year-old author admitted the book wasn't authorised and he had put words in Gandhi's mouth but said they weren't lies. "I have recreated situations based on what people close to the family told me," he said.
Moro, four of whose books have been published in India, said he chose to write about the Congress president because there wasn't a single book on her, in spite of her fascinating personality.
"When I think, I see such a dramatic story. Right from when she meets Rajiv Gandhi to her arrival in India, her entry into politics and eventually becoming the most powerful person in a country of 1.2 billion. How can you not write about it?" he said.
When asked if the Congress had a future under Rahul Gandhi, Moro sounded optimistic. "The Gandhis have been late bloomers. We should wait a little more," he said.
Moro also tackled criticism that the book doesn't elaborate on the Bofors scam that rocked the Congress in the late 1980s. Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, considered close to the Gandhi family, was an accused in the scandal. "My research says Gandhis aren't corrupt. You may have corrupt friends but that doesn't make you corrupt," he said.
He also said the Red Sari doesn't go into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots because that would have made the book lengthy.