Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday cancelled their participation at the India Today conclave that is to be attended by controversial author Salman Rushdie.
The organisers did not cite any reason for the cancellation, but their dropping out is said to be over the particpation of Rushdie. Mukherjee, who was to appear at the conclave a day after his budget presentation, regretted his inability to attend, apparently because of pressure from his constituency, Jangipur, in West Bengal that has a large Muslim population.
Rushdie is in the capital for the concluding session of the two-day annual conclave. On Friday, Rushdie's literary session was postponed to Saturday after Pakistani opposition leader Imran Khan dropped out, ostensibly over Rushdie.
Rushdie's participation at the two-day conclave that started on Friday at a five-star hotel here comes barely two months after he had to cancel his visit to the Jaipur Literature Festival due to threats from radical Muslim groups protesting against "derogatory references" to Islam in his novel "The Satanic Verses".