The Marxists have no love for a genre of fiction that takes digs at their leaders. Author Darshan Singh is feeling the heat over a book that caricatures former Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet.
Darshan Singh of Punjab has come out with a novel Bhaau - about the backroom manoeuvres supposedly plotted by Surjeet to stich together the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in May 2004.
The CPI-M is not amused, even if Surjeet is not named in the book. The character, however, has a strong resemblance to the man.
"Authors should check out their facts - whether it is Surjeet or Manmohan Singh. There should be no wilful intent to destroy anybody's character," a CPI-M politburo member told IANS.
Darshan Singh, who knew Surjeet from his Punjab days, has defended his work saying that it encapsulated a story of "virtual reality".
The blurb on his book described the leading character, believed to be Surjeet, as an "imaginary politician".
"Bhaau", written in Punjabi, described how in 2004, a top Communist leader, Karam Singh Kirti, tutored a European lady, presumably Sonia Gandhi, heading one of the largest parties in India (presumably the Congress), to form a secular coalition.
The UPA coalition, headed by the Congress, took power in 2004 with the support of the Left parties.
Surjeet spent much of his time in the sweltering month of May that year, shuttling between Gandhi's residence here at 10 Janpath and the CPI-M party headquarters and exhorting the UPA to get its script right.
Bhaau described the strands of political discord that marked relations between Kirti and "PR", a hardliner in his party.
Surjeet and his colleague Jyoti Basu had serious disagreements with Prakash Karat, considered then a hardliner, over the CPI-M's proximity to the Congress. Karat is now party general secretary.
The CPI-M is yet to discuss the novel by Darshan Singh, said an insider. But Arundhati Roy's novel "God of Small Things" was definitely "based on wrong facts," the source said.
Arundhati Roy used the name of EMS Namboodiripad, then still living, to play the part of a landlord. Namboodiripad was CPI-M general secretary between 1977 and 1992. The landlord turns his ancestral home into a hotel in Roy's book.
The CPI-M and Namboodiripad hit out at Roy for promoting "sexual anarchy" and "bourgeois values".
In an article published in Deshabhimani, a CPI-M organ, Namboodiripad dismissed Roy's portrayal of Communists saying: "I am proud of my individuality as a Communist that Arundhati sees as a flaw and my lack of sexual deviant sexuality that Arundhati sees as a matter of credit."