Banned book on Gandhiji's 'homosexuality' still on sale
Daily News & Analysis
By Paras K Jha
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi who takes pride in saving Gujarat’s Asmita (self esteem), has not been able to save the greatest son of Gujarat, Mahatma Gandhi from being ‘discredited’.
On March 30, 2011, the Gujarat assembly had unanimously passed a resolution banning the book ‘Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and his struggle with India’, written by Pulitzer Prize winner Joseph Lelyveld. The book highlighted the relationship between Mahatma Gandhi and his close friend Hermann Kallenbach, which according to reviews hinted that the father of India’s independence was in a homosexual relationship.
However, just a year after the ban, the book is easily available at the bookstore ‘Landmark’, that too in the stock clearing sale at a 50% discount.
When DNA asked the staff at the sales counter about the existing ban on the book, the salesman smiled and replied, “It might have been banned, but not anymore.”
While banning the book, Modi had said in the assembly that the contents of the book were perverse in nature and had hurt the sentiments of those with capacity for sane and logical thinking. The opposition Congress party had also supported the decision. The publisher was severely criticised for trying to defame Mahatma Gandhi.
Reacting to the ban, Lelyveld had termed the decision as ‘shameful’. He had said that it was a responsible book and did not talk about the sexual preferences of Gandhi. The writer also claimed that the book doesn’t say anywhere if Gandhi was bisexual or homosexual.
A government official at the state secretariat said, “Once the book is banned, it is banned forever, until it is challenged in the court and the ban is revoked. In this case, the ban has neither been challenged nor has it been revoked by the government.”
Repeated attempts to seek the views of minister of state for home Praful Patel, additional chief secretary home department Varesh Sinha, and secretary home Manoj Antani on the issue failed.