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By cancelling Nayantara Sahgal's invite, self respect has been killed, says Modi ally

Shiv Sena mouthpiece bats for noted author

By Our Special Correspondent in Mumbai

  • Published 9.01.19, 3:33 AM
  • Updated 9.01.19, 8:48 AM
Nayantara Sahgal
Nayantara Sahgal The Telegraph picture

BJP ally Shiv Sena has claimed that the invitation to writer Nayantara Sahgal to inaugurate the All India Marathi Literary Meet later this week was cancelled as it would have taken up issues uncomfortable for the ruling party.

An editorial in party daily Saamana claimed the organisers, Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, had killed freedom of expression by cancelling the invite, as Sahgal’s opposition to the BJP was well known.

“The organisers realised that they will have to forego favours from the government if they went ahead with Nayantara Sahgal for the literary meet. They have killed the freedom of expression and self-respect of writers,” the editorial said.

Sahgal had been at the forefront of the protests against intolerance — signalled by the return of government awards — after the BJP government led by Narendra Modi came into power.

The Sena which shares power with the BJP at the Centre and in Maharashtra but has been critical of its partner of late, reminded readers that the 91-year-old writer’s opposition to the BJP was not the only time she had taken a political stand. “She is feared by the ruling party today. She was jailed during the Emergency for speaking against (her cousin) Indira Gandhi. She is against everything that is wrong,” the editorial said.

The editorial claimed the speech prepared by Sahgal for Friday’s inauguration would have referred to mob lynchings, politics of hatred, use of government machinery against the Opposition and stifling of dissent ing voices among writers and journalists and would not have gone down well with the ruling establishment.

The purported contents of Sahgal’s speech intended for the three-day Marathi all-India meet and carried on online portals mention her concern for freedom under attack in the country, cow-related assaults and rewriting of history texts among other issues.

It is not clear whether the writer had shared her speech with the organisers, as Maharashtra’s BJP chief minister Devendra Fadnavis was scheduled to attend the meet.

The chief minister’s office has clarified that it had nothing to do with the decision of the organisers.

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s local unit had threatened to disrupt the meet because Sahgal is an English-language writer. But MNS chief Raj Thackeray had on Monday clarified that he and his party had no objection to Sahgal inaugurating the event.