Raj Thackeray is sorry, says no objection to Nayantara Sahgal

Updated: Jan 08, 2019, 16:38 IST | Chaitraly Deshmukh | Pune

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray apologised to Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan for a party member opposing Nayantara Sahgal

Nayantara Sahgal and Raj Thackeray
Nayantara Sahgal and Raj Thackeray

A day after it was reported that the organisers of the 92nd Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan had cancelled their invitation to noted author Nayantara Sahgal, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief apologised to them for a party member opposing her. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' office also issued a statement saying the state government had no role in getting the invitation cancelled. Reception committee member Ramakant Kolte had said the organisers took cognisance of the threat given by a political outfit and withdrew the invitation.

MNS chief Raj Thackeray posted on Twitter on Monday, "The sentiments behind the resistance by my colleague were stemming from the fact that the very essence of Marathi language needs to be safeguarded. Though his sentiments are correct, one has to take into account the very fact that a senior and noted writer like Nayantara Sahgal is going to be present in the literary meet. When in her presence, our profound culture and traditions stand unveiled, it can become a medium to exhibit our culture to the rest of the world. Keeping this in mind, my party and I have no objection to it." He also apologised and asked his sainiks to discuss such sensitive topics and issues with him before taking a stand.

The CMO also issued a press release saying, "Inviting a guest is completely the decision of the Sahitya Sammelan Mahamandal and its organisers. We or the state government do not play any role in it. We came to know our government is being dragged into the mess, but we have not played any role in it and are not at all involved in the process."

Noted author Aruna Dhere, who is the president of the sammelan, criticised the organisers. "It is shocking that you respectfully invite someone and later back out. Sahgal should be invited (again) with respect," she said. The sammelan is to be held at Yavatmal from January 11 to January 13.

Excerpts from Sahgal's speech
Nayantara Sahgal had sent her speech for the inaugural function to the organisers. mid-day has obtained a copy of it. She said late on Monday that she will not reconsider going to the sammelan.

"Today we have a situation where diversity, and opposition to the ruling ideology, are under fierce attack. Diversity is the very meaning of our civilisation. We have old literatures in many different languages. We eat different foods, we dress differently, we have different festivals, and we follow different religions. Inclusiveness has been our way of life, and this ancient multi-cultural civilisation whose name is India is a most remarkable achievement that no other country has known."

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