Prominent names in Maharashtra politics and literature are set to arrive in the nondescript village of Ghuman in Gurdaspur district as the 88th Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan — the All India Marathi Literary Conference — commences there on Friday.
For the three-day conference — the second to be held in northern India after 1964 when New Delhi hosted one — the SAD-BJP government is trying to provide a single platform showcasing Punjab and Maharashtra.
The conference will be dedicated to Bhagat Namdev (Sant Namdeo), who spent nearly two decades in Ghuman towards the end of his life and died there. It was in Ghuman that he was believed to have composed his shlokas in Awadhi, Marathi and Punjabi. More than 50 of his verses were incorporated in the Guru Granth Sahib.
“Out of the 25 years Bhagat Namdev spent in Punjab, nearly 18 years were spent in Ghuman… There has been a strong literary link between Punjab and Maharashtra. This festival is being held to celebrate that,” said Additional Chief Secretary, Punjab, Suresh Kumar, who is making arrangements for the conference.
Besides hosts Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, the political bigwigs set to attend the conference include Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Union ministers Nitin Gadkari and Parkash Javadekar, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, senior Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. A number of eminent personalities in the field of literature from Maharashtra and Punjab will also participate in the conference.