Coming down heavily on the decision of the All India Marathi Sahitya Sammelan (AIMSS) revoking its invite to renowned author Nayantara Sahgal to inaugurate its 92nd meet, the Shiv Sena on Tuesday termed it "an Emergency-like situation in Yavatmal".
"This is the first instance in history of cancellation of an invitation to the person invited to inaugurate. The kind of behind-the-scenes conspiracies hatched to prevent her from coming, did no good to Maharashtra's glorious traditions. It was due to apprehensions that Sahgal's speech could increase the problems of the rulers in Maharashtra," the Sena, an ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party both in the state and the Centre, said.
Terming literary conferences in recent times as engaging more in politics and less in literature, the Sena said the AIMSS organisers cancelled it fearing a backlash from the ruling party since Sahgal's speech was "bold and fearless".
Though disputes during such conclaves are not new, this is the first time it was on political lines rather than literary or intellectual differences, the Sena said in twin edits in the party mouthpieces Saamana and Dopahar Ka Saamana.
Pointing out how some opponents felt Sahgal was an 'outsider', the Sena said in fact, "her roots are very much from Kudal in Sindhudurg district of Konkan".
"She is the daughter of Barrister Ranjit S. Pandit and Vijayalakshmi Pandit, and her cousin was the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. This did not prevent her from raising her voice against the Emergency and Indira's dictatorship for which she was arrested and jailed," the Sena said.
It is clear that Sahgal - who had in 2015 returned her Sahitya Akademi Award protesting against the culture of intolerance in the country - was not opposed to any particular political party or ideology, but speaks against wrongs, false show and injustice.
At the upcoming three-day literary meet in Yavatmal, she had submitted her advance speech in which she planned to speak on the politics of hate, misuse of government machinery to bring about political changes, pressures on journalists, blatant killings of writers and intellectuals, cow protection and lynching incidents and other contemporary issues.
"The state government doles out Rs 5-50 lakhs for the AIMSS events, and in return, the Chief Minister is invited. Instead of earning the government's ire, the organisers have killed with their own hands the intellectual freedom and self-respect of writers by spiking the invite to Sahgal," said the Sena.
"The country is not just for Hindus as some people believe, but of every person in India, in recent times many writers and intellectuals were killed, many more were lynched in mob violence on rumours of smuggling cows or finding suspected beef, with the blessings of those in power. Every Indian should be ashamed of all this," Sahgal had said in her speech.
The Sena said the present situation is similar to the events before 1975 when the shadows of fear and conspiracies roamed around, finally culminating in the midnight declaration of Emergency.
"Has somebody noticed a similar shadow of hidden trepidation on the 92nd AIMSS event in Yavatmal and created an Emergency-like situation there."
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