Shripad Joshi, the president of the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Mahamandal, on Wednesday resigned following the controversy over the withdrawal of author Nayantara Sahgal’s invitation to a literary meeting in Maharashtra, PTI reported.
Joshi had invited Sahgal as the the chief guest and keynote speaker for the 92nd All India Marathi Meet, which is scheduled to be begin at Yavatmal on Friday. The literary meeting is held under the aegis of the Mahamandal. The invitation was revoked on Sunday after some workers of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena objected to it. The organisers said they wanted to “avoid any untoward incident and in view of the controversy that has cropped up against her name”.
“I have sent an email tendering my resignation to the organisers and I have been portrayed in a wrong manner,” Joshi said in a statement, according to the Hindustan Times. “I plan to meet Nayantara Sahgal in Delhi and explain my situation.”
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray had said that his party was not against inviting Sahgal to the meet, and expressed regret for the trouble the organisers had faced. Several people, including other authors and politicians, have since condemned the revocation of the invitation.
The 91-year-old author, who was at the forefront of the “award-wapsi” campaign in 2015, had said on Monday that she will not attend the 92nd all-India Marathi Sahitya Sammelan this week, even if a fresh invitation is issued to her. On Tuesday, she said it was obvious that political pressure by those who are in power in Maharashtra led to her invitation being cancelled.
In October 2015, Sahgal had given back her Sahitya Akademi award, which she had won for her novel Rich Like Us in 1986. She had returned the award as a protest against the increasing intolerance in the country, attacks on the right to dissent in India and the Sahitya Akademi’s silence over attacks on writers and rationalists in the country.