The controversy over Spanish writer Javier Moro's book 'The Red Saree', a fictionalised account of the life of Sonia Gandhi, is getting murkier with the author threatening to sue her counsel Abhishek Singhvi, who in turn terms Moro's charges as comic if not tragic.
The book, which was first published in Spanish with a title 'El Sari Rojo' in 2008 and is set for India release, has stirred a storm with Congress chief's lawyers describing it as containing "untruths, half truths, falsehoods and defamatory statements" and served Moro with a legal notice.
Claiming that Singhvi was "terrorising the publishers", Moro said, "I don't know how Abhishek Manu Singhvi or others have got their hands on the version when the book is not even in the market yet. He has got a version (of the book) in an illicit manner. I plan to sue him."
"My book is a book on the glory of the Gandhi family. It defends the ideals of the Gandhi family. These ideals I myself defend," Moro told PTI over phone from Madrid.
"I have said that the lawyer Abhishek Singhvi is terrorising the publishers that does not mean that the Congress Party is censoring me. It has nothing to do with the Congress Party itself.
"I think nobody in the Congress has read the book. They are taking lines out of context and manipulating the text... They are already manipulating the text that is what Singhvi is doing. I think Sonia Gandhi is being surrounded by all these watchdogs to show he can be the toughest lawyer. All this has led to an ridiculous and absurd controversy," the author said.
Maintaining that the legal notice was issued to Moro almost six months ago by authorisation of the victim of his defamation, Singhvi said, "Moro's comments would be comic if they were not tragic. He does not seem to understand the ABC of law or practice.
"I am barely the legal adviser, who had settled the legal notice, which is specifically issued on the behalf of the Congress President. Is Mr Moro naive or ignorant in not realising that the book is on Congress President and the legal notice has also been sent by her and on her behalf."
Singhvi, also Congress spokesman, said, "Moro is welcome to exercise all his legal rights but he has never taken this point in the last seven months of correspondence.
"There is no English language book nor any Indian edition. We have merely got a manuscript and we do not propose to oblige Moro by telling him its source," he said.
Moro has reportedly referred to Gandhi's origin in Italy, her marriage to Rajiv Gandhi and the difficult times she went through after his assassination.
Claiming that he did not need any approval to publish his book in India, Moro said, "India is democratic country which respects freedom of speech. I don't need permission to publish the book. My book is not libellous, I haven't said anything wrong."
Asked whether he would be coming to India for the book release, Moro said, "The book will be out when my publisher is ready and (I) will come to India then."
Moro is no stranger to India and has previously authored several books related to various incidents in the country including 'Five Past Midnight', which dealt with the Bhopal tragedy has been co-authored with his uncle, noted writer Dominique Lapierre.
"When you come to a country like India you are interested in its history and its rulers. I have been visiting India for the past 30 years and have several good friends across all strata of people and I love the country and I feel at home here," the author said.
"Moreover my uncle (Dominic Laiperre) has been a good friend of late Indira Gandhi. I grew up listening to stories about her," Moro said, adding he had thought about writing the book after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.
"I watched his cremation on TV, and that is when I thought that it would be a good idea to tell the story of this family through the point of view of Sonia, a woman with whom readers all around the world can easily identify.
"Then, when she won the elections in 2004, I had a good ending for the story," he said.
Clarifying that he has no issue with the Congress Party but only with its lawyer, he said, "People like Abhishek Singhvi have been harassing an author whose book has not even come out in the market yet. The whole thing is absurd."
Although Moro was not forthcoming on whether he had met Sonia Gandhi, he said, "I have never received any note from Sonia Gandhi not to write the book. I have never been harmed or molested. This has nothing to do with the Congress Party."
"I love the country and its people but despise its ruling elite which does not seem to be living up to the expectations of the people," said the author.
"I have never said that I faced censorship from the Congress Party. What I have said is that its lawyer Abhishek Singhvi is terrorising the publishers. There has been manipulation on the part of the media," said the author.