Indian state bans Gandhi book over bisexual and racist claims

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An Indian state has banned a biography of Mahatma Gandhi which claimed he fell in love with a man and had racist views.

The chief minister of Gujarat state, where Gandhi was born, said the book should be “despised”.

According to AFP, Narendra Modi wrote on his blog: “The depiction about Mahatma Gandhi made by Joseph Lelyveld deserves to be despised. This shall not be tolerated under any circumstance.

“The government of Gujarat has already decided to completely ban the book.

The federal government is also reportedly considering banning the book, which is not being published in India.

India’s law minister Veerappa Moily told the Indian Express newspaper: “The government has taken a serious note of the book that has made a disgraceful statement on the national leader. It is demeaning for the nation.”

Maharashtra state is also said to be considering banning the book.

Yesterday, Mr Leylveld argued that reviewers and the press had distorted his words.

“I do not allege that Gandhi is racist or bisexual,” he said in a statement. “The word ‘bisexual’ nowhere appears in the book.”

“The word ‘racist’ is used once to characterise comments by Gandhi early in his stay in South Africa… the chapter in no way concludes that he was a racist or offers any suggestion of it.”

According to reviews, the book says: “Gandhi wrote to [German bodybuilder Hermann] Kallenbach about ‘how completely you have taken possession of my body. This is slavery with a vengeance’.”

It claimed that Gandhi nicknamed himself “Upper House” and Kallenbach “Lower House.”

Mr Lelyveld wrote: “He made Lower House promise not to ‘look lustfully upon any woman.’ The two then pledged ‘more love, and yet more love . . . such love as they hope the world has not yet seen’.”

Gandhi left his wife Kasturbai Makhanji for Kallenbach, the book said, quoting intimate letters between the two men.

It also claims Gandhi held racist views towards black South Africans.