Author and founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival, Vikram Sampath has resigned as the director of the festival after criticism from writers who called him ‘right-wing’ for opposing the trend of littérateurs returning their awards to protest against growing intolerance in the country.
In a statement posted on Facebook on Saturday, Sampath said, that he was withdrawing because he did not want the festival to suffer on account of the personal attacks on him by sections of writers. Sampath is a Sahitya Akadami Yuva Puraskar recipient and author of ‘My Name is Gauhar Jaan’ and ‘Splendours of Royal Mysore’.
Sampath came under pressure after two writers, invited to speak at BLF, cancelled their participation. Kannada authors Dayananda TK and Arif Raja had shot off letters to the organisers in which they criticised Sampath for criticising authors and other prominent intellectuals who had returned their awards. They accused Sampath of being “fascist” and “right-wing” for writing an article in the Mint where he described writers returning awards as “sheep”.
In his resignation statement, Sampath, said that “several authors and speakers” have withdrawn from the event because of his personal opinions. He said that he was resigning in the hope that his absence will make the protesting writers “more comfortable” with participating in BLF. He also said that BLF has consistently provided space for all shades of political opinion.