Following Maharashtra, Gujarat has also on Wednesday banned recently published book Great Soul; Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India written by Pulitzer prize winner journalist Joseph Lelyveld.
The book has sparked off controversy with the book quoting correspondence between Mahatma and body builder and architect Hermann Kallenbach has implied that Mahatma was bisexual.
In the state assembly today, Chief Minister Narendra Modi put a resolution seeking ban on the sale, distribution, publication, and broadcast of the book in the state. "The writing is perverse in nature. It has hurt the sentiments of those with capacity for sane and logical thinking," Modi said while speaking in the house.
He described the book as an attempt to “defame Mahatma Gandhi.” On Tuesday, Modi, after the controversy surfaced, had expressed his anguished over such controversial depiction of Mahatma.
Supporting the government’s move, leader of the opposition Shaktisinh Gohil said that the book has portrayed Mahatma in poor light. “Mahatma Gandhi is regarded as an apostle of peace and non violence not only in India, but also in the world and therefore no attempt to denigrate him or his legacy should be tolerated,” he said, justifying the ban on the book.
However, a noted writer on Gandhi, Tridip Suhrud deplored the ban, demanding that it be reconsidered. “The book does not call Gandhi either racist or suggest bisexuality. It in fact argues against such readings. The decision of banning the book should be reconsidered because it is based not on actual reading of the book but one review,” he said.
Similarly in 2009, the Modi government in Gujarat had banned BJP leader Jaswant Singh’s book "Jinnah: India - Partition - Independence" on the ground that it questioned Sardar Patel’s role in partition and contained defamatory references regarding Patel while praising Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
However, Gujarat high court while acting on a PIL had set aside the government order banning the book.