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Sayli Udas Mankikar, Hindustan Times
Chiplun, January 13, 2013
Controversies must not overshadow events at a cultural meet, said Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, while speaking at the 86th Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan on Saturday.

The Marathi literary festival that began in the Konkan town of Chiplun on Friday is a three-day meet that ends on Sunday.

Thackeray was referring to the controversy regarding naming the main stage after his father and Sena chief, Bal Thackeray. "A literary festival, that celebrates our mother tongue, ought to be kept clear of controversies. I thank the organisers for recognising Balasaheb's work and naming the stage in his honour," said Uddhav, while participating in a panel discussion on and by cartoonists. Speaking about his father, Uddhav said, "He was the only leader who started off as a cartoonist and influenced the Marathi manoos with the power of the pen."

The festival this year, has been ridden with controversies including the selection of  irrigation minister Sunil Tatkare as the chairman of the welcoming committee, naming the main stage after the Sena chief, Parashuram's picture on the programme sheet and the use of legislators' development funds to organise the meet.

Uddhav remarked, in jest, that a committee to deal with the controversies ought to be formed. He also reiterated the Sena's demand to the central government to give Marathi the status of a 'classical language'. At present, only Sanskrit, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu have been given the status.

Commenting on the festival chairman Dr Nagnath Kottapalle's request to the Union government to intervene in the Karnataka-Maharashtra border dispute with respect to Belgaum, Uddhav said that an urgent intervention was needed in the matter.