India seen as too protective of Sonia Gandhi's image

Wed Jun 2, 2010 7:13am EDT
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By Rina Chandran

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Indian authorities have tried to crack down on portrayals of Sonia Gandhi in movies, books and cartoons, triggering criticism that the world's largest democracy is too reverent toward its most powerful politician.

Gandhi is a member of a family of Congress leaders that has dominated Indian politics since independence in 1947. As head of the ruling Congress party, she is widely seen as the power behind- -the-scenes in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government.

An upcoming Bollywood film "Rajneeti" (Politics), a political saga featuring a woman politician said to resemble Sonia Gandhi, has had trouble with the censor.

Filmmaker Prakash Jha denies his lead actor in "Rajneeti" -- seen in promotional material draped in a saree like Sonia Gandhi -- is modeled after her.

Jha said he had had difficulty getting his film classified "U/A" (universal) after first receiving an adult certification that would have drawn smaller audiences. A new controversy threatens to overshadow the movie's premiere Friday.

A Spanish novel "El Sari Rojo" (The Red Sari), purporting to dramatize the "tale of the Nehru-Gandhi family told through the story of Sonia Gandhi," has recently come under fire from the powerful Congress party

There have been moves to block the English publication of the novel, which in some editions has pictures of Sonia Gandhi on the cover with folded hands.

Congress party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi was cited in the Indian Express daily as saying the work was "completely unauthorized, defamatory and salacious."   Continued...

<p>Chief of India's ruling Congress party Sonia Gandhi waves towards supporters during an election campaign rally ahead of the Maharashtra state elections in Mumbai October 10, 2009. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe</p>