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Leaders stay away, disappoint crowd

mumbai Updated: Jan 14, 2013 01:45 IST
Sayli Udas Mankikar
Sayli Udas Mankikar
Hindustan Times
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Controversy continued to reign supreme on the last day of the Marathi literature festival. The packed crowd at the closing ceremony went back disappointed after many invitees — chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, Goa CM Manohar Parikar, deputy CM Ajit Pawar and industries minister Narayan Rane — failed to turn up.

BJP legislator and Opposition leader Vinod Tawde was the only leader to attend the closing ceremony on Sunday.

Sources in the organising committee of the 86th Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan – the three-day festival at the coastal town of Chiplun in Konkan — said allegations that the cultural festival had turned into a politician event is what kept the leaders away.

Controversies have marred the festival before it even began. Naming the festival’s main stage after late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, inviting NCP chief Sharad Pawar to inaugurate the event, and an address by Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray were perceived as a political stunts by literary experts and Marathi writers. “This event has turned into a fair, which politicians attend, while people who have anything to do with literature do not attend anymore,” Marathi writer Bhalchandra Nemade said on Sunday.

Sources said that Rane, who was at Konkan for another function on Sunday morning, opted out after hearing that Chavan would not be present, as he did not want to be the only Congress leader at the festival.

Sources from the offices of the CM and the deputy CM maintained that attending the closing ceremony was not on the cards for them owing to prior commitments, which they had conveyed to the organisers.

Taking potshots at the leaders’ absence, Tawde said: “It seems that the confusion over who will be the CM in 2014 and the uncertain future is what kept all of them away.”

Taking a dig at Tawde in his closing speech, NCP’s Tatkare said the leader should not worry about the others and assured him that the BJP would remain where it is now, in the 2014 polls.