After the embarrassment over the withdrawal of noted author Nayantara Sahgal's invitation, organisers of a Marathi literary meet have decided to let a farmer's widow open the event, beginning in Yavatmal Friday.
"We have decided to inaugurate the literary meet at the hands of a woman who lost her husband to agricultural distress," she said.
"I appeal to authors and poets boycotting the event to rethink and attend the literary meet," the minister said.
Joshi had invited Sahgal as the the chief guest and keynote speaker for the meet. The invitation was revoked on Sunday after some workers of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) objected to it.
Amid flak by opposition leaders and authors over rescinding the invitation to Sahgal, the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) had Monday distanced itself from the controversy.
Soon after the CMO clarification, Sahgal had said she won't attend the meet now even if a fresh invite were to be sent to her.
The CMO said the decision on whom to invite for the meet is taken by the organisers and the state government has no role in it.
Many opposition leaders alleged the invitation was cancelled at the behest of the ruling BJP.
The Sharad Pawar-led NCP was not impressed by the government's statement and had said the invitation was cancelled "out of fear that Prime Minister Narendra Modi" would not like if Sahgal, niece of first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, attended the literary meet.
The noted English-language author was at the forefront of the 'award-wapsi' (returning of awards) campaign. In 2015, several writers returned their awards to protest against what they described as "rising intolerance and growing assault on free speech" under the Modi government.
Historian Ramachandra Guha had said, "The Maharashtra that fears the words of a ninety one year old woman writer is the Maharashtra of Godse and his mentors, not the Maharashtra of Ambedkar, Phule, Gokhale or Tilak."
MNS chief Raj Thackeray had on Monday said he "deeply regretted' the inconvenience caused to supporters of such literary events by the action of a few of his men.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)