JLF 2015: Is a BJP leader to blame for the Perumal Murugan controversy?

  • Abhishek Saha, Hindustan Times, Jaipur
  • Updated: Jan 22, 2015 18:28 IST


CS Lakshmi, Mark Tully, Nayantara Sahgal, Karthika VK and Prasoon Joshi at the The Reading Habit session at the Jaipur Literature festival. Photo: Prabhakar Sharma/Hindustan Times

A senior BJP leader has a hand in Hindu radicals raising hackles five years after Tamil writer Perumal Murugan’s book about a woman trying to have a child with a stranger was published, said the editor of a publishing house at the Jaipur Literature Festival on Wednesday.

Karthika VK, chief editor and publisher of Harper-Collins India, said the book published in 2010 stirred a controversy now because a senior BJP leader stoked the fire during a visit to Tamil Nadu to boost the party’s prospects.

Tamil Nadu has alternately elected either the AIADMK of Jayalalithaa or Karunanidhi’s DMK, reducing other political parties to the fringes — especially the BJP, although Hindu sentiments run high in this southern state.

The recent Chennai literary festival was abuzz with news about a senior BJP leader inciting Hindu radicals against Murugan’s book, Karthika said at the opening day session of the lit fest titled ‘Is the commerce of literature today killing good writing?’ — moderated by lyricist Prasoon Joshi.

The session discussed how Murugan’s freedom of expression has been stifled, forcing him to announce his retirement from writing.

Author Nayantara Sahgal said the lit fest should pass a resolution to support writers gagged by political agencies. “There should be a writers’ collective or an association of citizens to speak against such bullying.”

Senior journalist Mark Tully suggested caution. “There is a very thin line between insulting people’s religion, their sexual choices or ethnicity and a piece of truly creative and questioning literature,” he said.

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