Why Nayantara Sahgal Was Dropped From Marathi Lit Meet

The Shiv Sena on Tuesday claimed author Nayantara Sahgal’s invite to the 92nd all-India Marathi literary meet was rescinded after the organizers learned about her intent to talk on matters like cow-related violence and lynchings and ”misuse” of government machinery.

An editorial in party mouthpiece ”Saamana” said the literary meet’s organizers killed the freedom of expression and self-respect of writers by rescinding the invite.

The known English-language author who was at the forefront of the ”award-wapsi” (returning of awards) campaign, was to inaugurate 92nd All India Marathi Literary Meet in Yavatmal district of Maharashtra on January 11 in the presence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

In 2015, various writers returned their awards to protest against what they described as “rising intolerance and growing assault on free speech” under the Narendra Modi government.

The Sena stated that Ms. Sahgal’s speech, in which she planned to speak on mob lynchings, politics of hatred, using government machinery against Opposition, political pressure on journalists and killings of writers, had already been sent to the literary meet’s organizers.

“The organizers must have thought that they will have to forego ”sarkarimeherbani” (favors from the government) if Nayantara Sahgal is known for the event. They have murdered the freedom of expression and self-respect of writers,” the Uddhav Thackeray-led party said.

“Nayantara, who is feared by the ruling party today, is the same person who was jailed during the Emergency for speaking against Indira Gandhi. This means she is not against an ideology or a political party but against all that is wrong,” the Marathi daily said.

She would have clearly mentioned her thoughts in the Marathi literary meet, the Sena said. Her ”kulvamul” (origin and roots) can be traced to coastal Konkan in Maharashtra, it added.

The editorial referred to Maharashtra NavnirmanSena chief Raj Thackeray stating his party has no objection to Ms. Sahgal being invited to the literary meet and his apology after a local MNS worker threatened to disrupt the function.

The MNS was being created a puppet by someone, the Sena said but did not mention any name.

Amid flak by Opposition leaders and authors over rescinding the invitation to Ms. Sahgal for the literary event, the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) had on Monday distanced itself from the controversy.

Soon after the CMO’s clarification, Ms. Sahgal had said she won’t attend the meet now even if a fresh invite were to be sent to her.

Opposition leaders have alleged that the invitation was canceled at the behest of the ruling BJP.

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