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Marathi literary event president resigns over Nayantara Sahgal invite fiasco

The withdrawal of the invitation to writer Nayatara Sahgal as the chief guest resulted in fierce criticism from a number of authors, with calls from prominent writers and social activists such as Vidya Bal to boycott the event to register their protest.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2019 08:48 IST
Hindustan Times, Pune
Nayantara Sahgal,Marathi literary event,Vidya Bal
Nayantara Sahgal, 91, a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi award, had been invited by the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Mahamandal president Sripad Joshi as the chief guest and keynote speaker at the session, which she had accepted.(HT File )

The president of Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Mahamandal resigned on Wednesday following a sharp criticism over the withdrawal of an invitation to writer Nayatara Sahgal as the chief guest and keynote speaker at a literary event.

Sahgal was invited by the Mahamandal president Shripad Joshi to the 92nd Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, which she had accepted. The prestigious Marathi literary meet is scheduled to begin at Yavatmal on January 11.

However, the invitation was withdrawn after protests from political groups, including the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), for inviting a writer in English to a Marathi literary meet. MNS chief Raj Thackeray said on Monday his party has no objection or opposition to Sahgal’s presence at the meet and apologised for the conduct of his party leaders.

Also read: MNS chief Raj Thackeray apologises after writer Nayantara Sahgal dropped from Marathi literature meet

“I have sent an email tendering my resignation to the organisers and I have been portrayed in a wrong manner. I plan to meet Nayantara Sahgal in Delhi and explain my situation,” Joshi said in a statement.

The withdrawal of the invitation to Sahgal resulted in fierce criticism from a number of authors, with calls from prominent writers and social activists such as Vidya Bal to boycott the event to register their protest.

Also read: Pune-based writers criticise withdrawal of Sahgal’s invite

“This sammelan was of historic importance for two reasons; one being that Aruna Dhere is the first woman president of the Sammelan and second, that Nayantara had agreed to be part too despite her age and her health,” Bal, who was to receive an award at the literary meet, said.

“The organisers have not just insulted Nayantara by withdrawing the invite but also Aruna Dhere and the government of Maharashtra. Sahgal is not just a national figure but known internationally and even the government has not taken cognisance of this great author. Is the Chief Minister not capable of controlling and protecting this sammelan from being disrupted?” Bal asked.

On Tuesday, however, a number of writers from Pune opposed the call to boycott the literary meet and issued a signed statement. The statement said that while they strongly oppose the withdrawal of the invitation to Sahgal, they will not boycott the sammelan.

Also read: Writers oppose call to boycott Marathi literary meet over withdrawal of invitation to Sahgal

They also appealed to other writers not to boycott the literary meet as it would disappoint the thousands of lovers of literature who would be attending the event.

First Published: Jan 09, 2019 18:54 IST

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