Literature lovers are all surprised,not pleasantly though,after going through the schedule of the forthcoming 87th All India Marathi Literary Meet. The prestigious event appears more like a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) show,with party leaders from local to national level set to dominate the three-day meet with their presence.
The invitation card for the event flashes names of NCP members right from the Pune Zilla Parishad (ZP) chairman,president of the District Central Cooperative Bank and the mayors of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad civic bodies to MP Supriya Sule,PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal,Home Minister R R Patil and party chief and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.
Former party MP Shriniwas Patil,who is now the Governor of Sikkim,is one of the chief guests.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan,Forest Minister Patangrao Kadam,Cooperation Minister Harshavardhan Patil and Cultural Affairs Minister Sanjay Deotale (all from Congress) and Shiv Sena MLA Vijay Shivtar are also slated to attend the meet.
The detailed schedule of the literary event to be held at Saswad,around 35 km from Pune,from January 3 was released by the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Mahamandal on Tuesday.
While the presence of top political leaders,such as the chief minister and ministers,during the national Marathi literary meet has become a norm despite stiff opposition from a section of the literary world,the latest arrangement by the organisers to make writers and poets share dais with politicians has left many angry.
I can only say that it is a pity for the writers and poets who are going to take part in the meet. In fact,they could become the odd ones out in such a political gathering despite the event being all about them. There is apprehension that literature lovers could turn their back towards the annual event after coming to know that such a galaxy of politicos will be there. People generally go to literary events to witness the inspiring presence of eminent personalities from the literary world,and not local politicians, writer V B Deshpande,who is also a former office-bearer of the Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad,Pune,told Newsline.
Critic D B Kulkarni,who was president of the 83rd edition of the national event held in Pune,said though literary meets were considered social gatherings,the presence of only those bigwigs who have love for literature should be considered august.
Reacting to the allegations of diluting the literary event by allowing local politicians to preside over it,NCP leader Vijay Kolte,who is among the chief hosts of the Saswad literary meet,said it was apt to invite them and even mention their names on the invitation card as they provided substantial finances to organise the event.
The local politicians and heads of local self-governing bodies have provided us with the desired financial help,so we have invited them as a courtesy. We require a budget of around Rs 1.25 crore to properly host the event. Also,it would be a violation of protocol if some of them were denied a place on the dais, he said.
Speaking on the issue,local BJP leader Sandeep Khardekar said organisers could have easily arranged the event without any political help. The prestigious event has its own tradition. There is no need to spend unnecessary money to organise it so as to reduce it to some kind of a cheap festival. Let us hope NCP supremo Sharad Pawar takes some cognisance of such unmindful arrangement and avoid setting a wrong precedent, he said.
Meanwhile,the organisers said special state transport buses and those from the PMPML fleet would be arranged to ferry residents willing to attend the Saswad event. Talks,seminars,discussions and many other events are scheduled to take place during the 87th Marathi literary meet,which has poet F M Shinde as president-elect. The organisers said more details about the event could be found on http://www.abmss-saswad.com.