Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, on Monday, said those who use cultural platforms to divide society must be condemned.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the 84th Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan at the Dadajo Konddeo Stadium in Thane, Chavan’s comment was with reference to the controversy over the glorification of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse, in a souvenir released at the Marathi literary meet.
“If the Sahitya Sammelan platform is used for dividing society then it has to be condemned and one would have to reconsider their participation at such events,” he said.
The controversy had erupted during the inaugural session of the meet on Saturday over an article that described Godse as a litterateur and political thinker who had great respect for Gandhi.
“Marathi literature should reduce disparities in society and unite Marathi speakers together without any caste, religion and cultural bias,” he said.
Ribbing the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and the Shiv Sena for their tussle over the ‘Marathi agenda’, the CM said only changing nameplates of shops to Marathi would not help strengthen and preserve the language.
“Marathi should be a way of life and in their soul,” he said. “I am not a writer or poet. I am just a person who likes to read good literature. I like to listen to good music and I appreciate good cinema and plays. Today I am standing as a Marathi literature lover on this stage,” he said.
Listing his government’s efforts to promote Marathi, Chavan said a separate department has been set up to promote the language.
“The government is trying to bring a system to make the Marathi language easily usable on computers. We are also trying to bring the implementation of UNICODE (an operating system that makes Devnagari typing very simple on the computer).”
President of the meet, writer and journalist Uttam Kambale said, “What I saw in the last three days is the remarkable increasing number of youngsters participating in the literary meet. So, I can say that the meet has ended but a young literary movement has just begun.”
The suggestions given by the organisers to promote Marathi included the setting up of a Marathi university in which all subjects would be taught in Marathi, more government funds to trigger a Marathi literary movement, support for Marathi schools and recognising librarians in Marathi schools as regular government employees.