Politicians shouldn't meddle in other fields, says Nitin Gadkari at Marathi literature meet that withdrew invite to Nayantara Sahgal

Mumbai: Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Sunday advised fellow politicians not to interfere in "other fields".

The senior BJP leader was speaking at the valedictory function of the annual Marathi literary meet at Yavatmal, which has been embroiled in controversy after an invitation to writer Nayantara Sahgal was withdrawn.

Without making a direct reference to the row, Gadkari said, "Politicians should learn not to interfere in other fields. The people who are in universities, educational institutes, literature and poetry, they should be dealing with their (respective) areas.

File image of Union minister Nitin Gadkari. PTI

File image of Union minister Nitin Gadkari. PTI

"When I say there should not be any interference, it does not mean there should not be any contact between the people from the field of literature and politicians," he added.

"During the Emergency, speeches of (Marathi) writers like Durga Bhagwat and PL Deshpande drew bigger crowds than political rallies. Both of them, however, returned to literature after elections. They did not even seek political postings like Rajya Sabha membership," Gadkari noted.

While Bhagwat had criticised the Emergency openly, Deshpande had campaigned for the Janata Party after the Emergency was lifted and elections were announced in 1977.

"There should be cooperation, coordination and communication between writers and politicians. Lack of communication leads to miscommunication and then arguments," Gadkari said. "We should only respect the person who is expressing opposite views."

Sahgal, a noted Indian English writer who was in the forefront of an "award wapasi" campaign a few years ago, had been invited to inaugurate the 92nd Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, which started at Yavatmal on 11 January.

But organisers withdrew the invite after local leaders of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) opposed the invitation to an "English language writer".

The decision drew flak from several quarters even as MNS chief Raj Thackeray said it was not his party's official stand. Opposition parties alleged that it was the BJP that did not want Sahgal to attend the meet, a charge the state government denied.

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Updated Date: Jan 14, 2019 08:06:08 IST

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