I was supposed to be in Chiplun on January 8 at the invitation of the local police, who wanted me to address women and social workers there on gender empowerment, something I have been doing for decades.
Around the time I was invited, there arose the controversy about giving Bal Thackeray's name to the main dais of the Marathi Sahitya Sammelan. The media asked me for my reactions.
Soon, there was a barrage of abusive and insulting remarks from the Shiv Sena and from people associated with the Sammelan. The Sena newspaper Saamna remarked, 'We don't know who she is'. The party threatened to not allow me to step into Chiplun. My programme was then cancelled.
The Sammelan this time has been politicised more than ever before, there are 12-13 politicians for a programme, which is unheard of. It's clear to me that the Sena and Nationalist Congress Party are seeking - and getting - political mileage out of the state's most prestigious literary event.
The main dais should not be named after a politician, and certainly not after Thackeray. He consistently insulted writers and poets, whom he once disparaged as "cattle" -- his words were "bail bazaar" [cattle market] for a Sahitya Sammelan - and another time ridiculed PL Deshpande for his then deteriorated physical condition. I cannot comprehend how his name can grace the platform.
(As told to Smruti Koppikar)
(Pushpa Bhave - academic, writer, well-known social activist)