The full-page advertisement was published on October 6, 2007 by a little known Gandhi Heritage Foundation, many supporters of whose are known to be right wing Hindus. The advertisement showed a caricature of Sonia hitting Mahatma Gandhi with a dagger and argued that the Congress President should not have been allowed by the UN to speak on behalf of India on the occasion of the International Day of Non-violence.
A$100 million lawsuit was filed in New York by members of the Indian National Overseas Congress (INOC) against members of the Overseas Friends of BJP, who had placed a $65,000 ad criticizing Sonia Gandhi in The New York Times in October 2007 during her visit to the United Nations, New York. The ad was also followed by protests when Sonia and Rahul Gandhi visited the UN to participate in the International Non-Violence Day.
The commercial had drawn widespread protest and resentment from the Indian community in the US, a large number of whom shot off letters of protest to The New York Times. “I have never seen such a demeaning advertisement in The New York Times,’’ George Abraham, a community activist and office bearer of the Indian National Overseas Congress told NDTV.com. “They have done the unGandhain thing they could do,” he said. Abraham said, the Indian National Overseas Congress had written a letter to the editor in protest. “We are waiting for a response,” he said.
The NRI groups have argued that she did not misappropriate the name of Mahatma Gandhi. “Gandhi is a common name in India. She was married to late Rajiv Gandhi, the former Prime Minister. Hence her name is Mrs Sonia Gandhi. To say that she misappropriated her Gandhi name is an insult to your readers,” the letter said.
Sonia Gandhi, whom Forbes.com once declared the third most powerful woman in the world was in New York last October for the anniversary of Mohandas Gandhi’s birth, which the United Nations has declared the International Day of Non- Violence.
The article suggests that Sonia Gandhi had nothing to do with the lawsuit. A lawyer for the defendants, Daniel Kornstein claims the lawsuit is an effort to “to muzzle and punish Congress Party critics in America.”
Kornstein noted that Mohandas Gandhi himself once headed the National Congress Party and was an advocate of free speech. Of this libel case, Kornstein wrote, “Gandhi would not approve.” INOC’s lawyer, Sheldon Karasik said there are limits to free speech. “The totality of the statements clearly crosses the line,” Karasik, who has filed a similar complaint in state court in New Jersey, said of the advertisement. “It’s one thing perhaps to stand up on a soapbox and rant but it is another thing to be very specific and gather a laundry list of alleged wrongs that are supposedly statements of fact.”
The suit was brought by a New York organization that claims to be a subsidiary of India’s National Congress Party, which Sonia Gandhi heads. After the lawsuit was filed recently now there are reports stating that the defendants, who are aligned with the Overseas Friends of BJP are reported to have sought the dismissal of the case. The defendants include Narain Kataria, who said he retired a decade ago after a career as a legal secretary at the New York-based firm Cahill Gordon & Reindel and Arish Sahani, who said he retired as an agent at the New York Life Insurance Co.
BY R PADMANABHAN @http://www.nritoday.net/