A day before the Jaipur Literature Festival kicked off, the festival organisers stuck to their position that they stood by their invitation to writer Salman Rushdie. "We have not rescinded the invitation," said Sanjoy Roy of Teamworks. He added that they were in touch with him even though Rushdie was no longer part of the 'official' programme of the festival. His hotel bookings at the Rambagh Palace has been cancelled as well.
Earlier in the day, the festival organisers met representatives of several Muslim organisations to convey their stand on Rushdie's visit. "We told them that this [the festival] was a platform that allowed free speech as long as it was peaceful and democratic," Roy added.
The five-day festival kicks off from January 20 at Jaipur's Diggi Palace.
This year, some of the big draws include geneticist Richard Dawkins and Harvard academic Steven Pinker (making up for the negligence towards science writing in the past), British playwrights Tom Stoppard and David Hare and novelists Ben Okri and Michael Ondaatje. "Not a single author we wrote to gave an outright no," said William Dalrymple, adding to the sense that "Jaipur is more fun to attend, more buzzy and more going for it than any other literary fest."