Former Union Home Secretary Madhav Godbole, whose scheduled lecture on secularism at Maharashtra secretariat was cancelled days before the event, Saturday said he found the development ‘disconcerting’.
He told The Indian Express that he wasn’t given any reason for the cancellation. “It is troubling and it is time someone speaks up, as the long-term consequence of not speaking up on issues such as secularism could be severe,” he said.
The B G Deshmukh lecture — in memory of former Cabinet Secretary and Principal Secretary to the PM — had been organised by the Maharashtra branch of Indian Institute of Public Administration, which is led by state Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya, and was scheduled for April 4. Godbole was invited to speak on a subject of his choice.
Godbole said he mailed a copy of his speech, ‘Is India a Secular Nation,’ to organisers on March 11. He said he was informed on April 1 that the lecture had been cancelled. In his speech, he said that for the first time since Independence, Hindu Rashtra ideology was being talked about so ‘openly, definitely and persistently’ and that it was disconcerting to see questions being raised about India’s secularism.
Kshatriya said the event was cancelled because of the ongoing Assembly session, which would make it difficult for many officials to attend it. He did not comment on whether the event would be organised later with the same speaker.