Gujarat government today banned the controversial book `Great Soul; Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India’ by Pulitzer-winning author Joseph Lelyveld in the State.

The announcement was made by the Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the State Assembly here today, and the opposition Congress supported the decision.

Sale, distribution, publication, broadcast of the book have been banned in the State with immediate effect.

“The writing is perverse in nature. It has hurt the sentiments of those with capacity for sane and logical thinking,” Mr. Modi said after announcing the ban.

“This attempt to defame Mahatma Gandhi by the publisher has come under severe criticism not only in Gujarat but from all corners of India,” he added.

“Mahatma Gandhi is an idol not only in India but in the entire world. While his life - dedicated to the welfare of the mankind - has been an inspiration, the author has hurt the sentiments of crores of people,” he said.

Mr. Modi also said that the book should be banned across the country, and demanded a public apology from the author.

The opposition Congress too supported the move.

Leader of the opposition, Shaktisinh Gohil, said that such a “perverse and baseless” writing was an insult to the father of the nation.

He said that efforts should be made to ensure that such things did nor recur.

The book, published in US by Knopf, became available in the shops there yesterday. It is not available in India yet.