Monday, August 15, 2016

Bluff-master bites - Book shredding Modi beats ban attempts

Ahmedabad, Aug. 14: A book is having such achchhe din in Gujarat that two attempts have been made to ban it, although unsuccessfully.

The 54-page book is about Narendra Modi. Except that it's not about his crocodile-taming exploits as a child but about his alleged peddling of false promises to become Prime Minister.

Fekuji Have Dilli Ma and its English version, Bluff-master Now in Delhi, are apparently selling like hot cakes in Gujarat and even outside, with translations in the four south Indian languages in the offing.

Success for such a book would once have been unthinkable in a state that revered Modi, its chief minister for 13 years, even a couple of years ago. But the Patel quota agitation and the flogging of four Dalits by cow vigilantes seem to have triggered a change in mood.

Within weeks of the Gujarati edition's release in late May, Narsinh Solanki, who describes himself as a BJP worker, sought a ban on the book saying it defamed Modi.

After a lower court dismissed his petition in June ruling the petitioner was not personally affected by the book's sale, Solanki appealed before Gujarat High Court. On Thursday, the high court refused to admit the appeal on the same ground.

The book's author, Jayesh Shah, 60, is a publisher and astrologer who has written over a dozen books, mostly on Jainism and astrology. His JR Enterprise has published Fekujiand Bluff-master.

Shah told The Telegraph the two versions had already sold 25,000 to 30,000 copies in less than three months. He said 5,000 more copies were being printed.

Prakash Shah, a well-known Gujarati writer, said any book that sold more than 5,000 copies in Gujarat was considered a bestseller. "Gujarati novels hardly sell 1,000 copies, and books of poems even fewer - less than 750 copies," he said.

The book accuses Modi of shifting his stand on multiple issues after becoming Prime Minister - from black money to foreign direct investment and the minimum support price for farmers - and thus going back on several pre-poll promises.

"The idea behind the book was to create awareness, to tell people how Modi had fooled them," Shah said.
He said the Gujarati edition was released on May 26, the day the Modi government completed two years at the Centre.

Shah added that only 12,000 copies were printed initially, of which 8,000 were to be distributed free among social activists and Congress members and officials. But when the remaining 4,000 copies vanished off the shelves in quick time, he realised the book's potential.

The English translation came out last month and has sold 10,000 copies, he said.
An online bookseller, Kartik, told this newspaper he had sold over 2,500 copies of the Gujarati edition. "I've been getting orders even from Mumbai and Pune, mostly from Gujarati readers."

Fekuji and Bluff-master are available in book shops in Ahmedabad and Rajkot. It's selling even at the Gujarat Sahitya Parishad's bookstore.

Anand Raj, proprietor of the Chennai-based Silambu Publications, said he would print 4,000 copies of the book's translated versions in each of the four south Indian languages.
Solanki defended his attempt to seek a ban on the book but said he didn't plan to appeal the high court's refusal to admit his plea.

"Nobody should be allowed to ridicule our Prime Minister. He should be given time to bring the achchhe din (good days) he had promised," he said.
Nandita Thakur, an HR consultant who had helped Modi's cyber campaign as a volunteer between 2012 and 2014, said: "Books like these cannot dent the image of a Prime Minister who is still popular."

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