What made news in Jaipur and reverberated in the corridors of power in New Delhi is a non-issue on the election battleground.
Novelist Salman Rushdie’s controversial no-show at the Jaipur Literature Festival and the even more controversial cancellation of the video link on Tuesday was being related to the Uttar Pradesh polls. But surprisingly, the main players in the fray say Rushdie is a non-issue for them as far as polls go.
SP state president Akhilesh Yadav had dwelt on Rushdie briefly on January 14-15, in Azamgarh. On Tuesday, however, he told HT, “I did not talk about it today, but if need be, we might.”
The Congress itself dismissed it as a non-issue for elections.
The BJP has been attacking the Congress on the issue, but said it would not raise it in rallies. BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, “The Congress proposed it and disposed it for political reasons. It should have been more cautious. But we don’t think it is a poll issue.”
The relatively new Peace Party said, “We would not raise such a regressive issue. We are a progressive party”. The party’s national general secretary, MJ Khan, however, added, “No individual can be bigger than a collective feeling.”
Yadav concurred. “A person might be very knowledgeable, but if that knowledge hurts a large section of population, then it should be withheld by the person.” “The Congress was wrong on the issue of Rushdie’s visit.”
As the Rushdie-talk died down miles away in Diggi Palace, Jaipur, in UP too the issue seems to have been buried, for now.