A book on Sonia Gandhi by a Spanish author has created a storm over what is claimed to be a fictionalised account on her but has been described by her lawyers as containing "untruths, half truths, falsehoods and defamatory statements".
Author Javier 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.
He claims it is a fictionalised version of her life but Gandhi's lawyers are not prepared to buy his claim. He refers to her origin in Italy, her marriage to Rajiv Gandhi and the difficult times she went through after his assassination and her entry into politics.
Congress MP and party's legal and human rights cell in-charge Abhishek Singhvi had sent a legal notice to Moro and its publishers taking exception to certain contents in the book seven-eight months ago.
Moro, however, alleged that the Congress is trying to "terrorise" Indian firms into not publishing the book.
"I have written a fictionalised account of her life but that doesn't mean it's not truthful. Abhishek Manu Singhvi and his watchdogs and his company are trying to terrorise Indian publishing houses into not publishing my book. They will not succeed is all that I can say," Moro said.
Gandhi's lawyers, however, accused Moro of indulging in "gross prevarication and distortion".
They also rejected the author's reported claim that it was a work of fiction saying, "a fictionalised biography about a living person is an oxymoron. Any false and derogatory writing, that is admitted to be without authorisation or consent, is patently slanderous, libellous and defamatory."
They said that Moro was "first notified about the grossly defamatory and false nature of his publication on November 5 last year."
His lawyers objected to Moro writing that the Hindu priests refused to allow her to be present at the cremation (following Rajiv Gandhi's death).
They claimed, "Moro has an obsession with Gandhi's alleged desire to leave India for Italy. This theme recurs time and again (in the book)" which is "completely baseless, subjective and patently absurd".