The political controversy over the Raipur Literature Festival took a new turn Monday as the Congress urged writers to boycott the event. Chhattisgarh’s Public Relations Department is organising the festival from December 12-14.
Citing recent deaths of women in the botched up sterilisation cases in Bilaspur, the killing of CRPF men in Sukma and the worsening condition of paddy farmer due to the cap on procurement, the Congress has said the state is “still in mourning”.
“We called several writers, including Ashok Vajpeyi, Purushottam Agrawal, Jaishankar and Jaya Jadwani, and apprised them about the situation here. For some CRPF men killed in ambush, the last rites are yet to be performed. It is not an appropriate time to organise the festival,” PCC chief Bhupesh Baghel said in a statement Monday. The state government has already cancelled performances by Kailash Kher and Indian Ocean that were scheduled after literary sessions.
Director (PR) Rajat Kumar said: “The planning of this festival is going on for several months. We understand that the state has witnessed some unfortunate incidents recently… we have already cancelled some performances. It is unwarranted to cancel literary dialogues, which only give an opportunity to discuss crucial issues.”
The Congress has also complained to the Election Commission that the government is spending crores to promote itself when the Model Code of Conduct has been enforced for the upcoming municipal elections.
While the Congress claimed that these writers have promised a “review” of their decision to participate in the event, some of the writers told The Indian Express that they would not boycott it as “literature does not amount to entertainment”.