MUMBAI: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Monday clarified that his party has no objection to writer Nayantara Sehgal attending the 92 Marathi All India Literary meet. The clarification comes after the MNS drew flak after the invitation extended to noted author was revoked.
"As the party chief, I am not against inviting her. If Sahgal's presence at the All India Literary Meet is transcending into a cultural exchange, I or my party will not oppose it," Thackeray said in a statement.
Thackeray admitted that one of his local party workers had opposed Sahgal's presence at the literary meet and regretted the annoyance caused to the supporters of such literary events.
Sahgal was to inaugurate the 92nd literary meet on January 11 in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Yavatmal district. The organisers had said that the decision to withdraw the invitation to Sahgal was taken after a political outfit threatened to disrupt the function. Sahgal was earlier at the forefront of the "award wapsi" campaign against the Centre.
Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam had criticised the decision to cancel Sahgal's invitation, alleging that it was done at the behest of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). "The decision of the organisers was taken at the behest of the BJP, the MNS is just a front. Literature should not surrender before politics. If a government is scared of writers, it means that its days are over," he said.
Maharashtra's Cultural Affairs Minister Vinod Tawde, however, said the state welcomed everyone. "If someone had opposed Sahgal after her speech at the meet, then it could have been understood. It is not fair to oppose her completely. Maharashtra is a state that welcomes everyone to present their work," he said.
Working president of the literary meet's reception committee Ramakant Kolte said the organisers had decided to revoke Sahgal's invitation, "as a controversy has cropped up against her name and to avoid any untoward incident from those who threatened to derail the literary meet."