The Maharashtra government will initiate steps to ban the publication and sale of "Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and his Struggle with India", a new book currently stirring up a lot of controversy.
The government made the announcement in the legislative council on Tuesday, following demand by Congress legislator and state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre.
The book, written by Joseph Lelyveld, a Pulitzer-winning journalist, kicked up a storm after the international media reported that the book, quoting correspondence between Gandhi and body builder and German-Jewish architect Hermann Kallenbach, tried to portray the two as lovers, implying Gandhi was bisexual.
The reports also said Gandhi had been called a racist in the book.Quoting newspaper reports, Thakre said, "According to the reports, the book has raised doubts over Gandhi’s character, which is a serious issue. He was the father of the nation who gave the message of ahimsa (non-violence) to the world. I strongly protest the language used by him (the author) and such literature should not be allowed to be published."
Making a statement on behalf of the government, Industries minister Narayan Rane said, "The references made by the American author are not acceptable and the state will initiate steps to see that the book does not get published in Maharashtra. We will also request the central government to initiate steps to ban the book that maligns Mahatma Gandhi’s image."
Legislative council chairman Shivajirao Deshmukh who requested Rane to take a decision on the issue on behalf of the government said that he would ensure that the state took appropriate steps to make sure the book was banned.
Meanwhile, talking to the media in Pune, union law minister Veerappa Moily said that the central government would look into prohibiting the book. "Information in the book was baseless and on the here-say. It was degenerating to the national pride and national leadership. It was printed without any basis," he said.
When pointed out that Maharashtra government had already announced ban on the book, Moily replied, "We will certainly look into it. We will look into prohibit the book".