Marathi meet row: Mungekar writes to president Aruna Dhere

Congress leader Bhalchandra Mungekar Tuesday indirectly suggested that All India Marathi Literary Meet president Aruna Dhere not deliver the customary address in the wake of a row over cancellation of the inaugural invite of noted litterateur Nayantara Sahgal.

The 92nd conclave, which is scheduled to be held in Yavatmal in east Maharashtra on January 11, is mired into a controversy over rescinding of the invite by local organisers who have cited "law and order" issue.

In an open letter to Dhere, Mungekar said delivering the presidential address in the given circumstances would mean that Dhere too was "surrendering before intolerance and mobism like the spineless organisers" did.

Mungekar, who had served as a member of Planning Commission and chairman of University Grants Commission, stated that the invitation given to Sahgal was cancelled because the author was going to comment on "increasing intolerance" in the country.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is also set to attend the inaugural session of the meet.

Mungekar said Dhere received the honour of being the president of the meet without any opposition on account of respect for her service to the field of literature, and that delivering the customary address was a "formality".

The former Mumbai University Vice Chancellor, however, also said he was aware of the importance of this formality.

"But in case you deliver the address in the given circumstances, it would be akin to surrendering before intolerance and mobism like the spineless organisers did," he stated.

"It (delivering the address) would be betrayal of the world of thoughts of (Justice Mahadev Govind) Ranade," he added.

The first Marathi Sahitya Sammelan was held in Pune in 1878 under the chairmanship of Justice Ranade, a scholar and social reformer.