Writers oppose call to boycott Marathi literary meet in Pune over withdrawal of invitation to Sahgal
A prominent group of writers on Tuesday opposed the call by one group of fellow writers to boycott the 92nd Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan at Yavatmal.
On Monday, about 15 prominent writers including Vidya Bal had announced that they would boycott the prestigious Marathi literary meet to protest against the withdrawal of invitation to eminent writer Nayantara Sahgal.
On Tuesday, however, a number of writers from Pune issued a signed statement that while they strongly oppose the withdrawal of the invitation to Sahgal, they will not oppose the sammelan. They have also appealed to other writers not to boycott the literary meet as it would be extremely disappointing to the thousands of lovers of literature who would be attending the event.
Signatories to the statement included a number of prominent writers such as Sadanand More, D M Mirasdar, Mangala Godbole, Shivshahir Babashaheb Purandare, Pandurang Balkavde, Vijay Bhatkar, Rekha Inamdar, Yogesh Soman and Snehalata Deshmukh among others.
“We strongly oppose the organisers’ decision to first extend an invite and then withdraw it over pressure from political groups including the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) for inviting an English author to a Marathi literary meet. But we would not be boycotting the sammelan and disappoint many of thousands of avid literature lovers who will be travelling to Yavatmal,” the statement said.
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.
However, the invitation was withdrawn after protests from political groups including the MNS, for inviting an English author to a Marathi literary meet.
Senior writer and social activist Vidya Bal justified her decision to boycott the meet and said, “This sammelan was of historic importance for two reasons, one being that Aruna Dhere was elected as the first woman president of the Sammelan and second, Nayantara had agreed to be a part of it despite her age and her health. 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? This conduct is indeed a blot on the state,” Bal said in an interview.”
Besides Bal, at least 15 writers have boycotted the literary meet including Jaideo Dole, Indrajit Bhalerao, Celcelia Carvalho, Namdeo Koli and Shrikant Bojewar.