Wednesday, Nov 30, 2022

BJP-Sabnis slanging match rages ahead of literary meet

Author ready for a dialogue, but BJP dismisses it saying he has no option but to apologise for alleged remarks against Prime Minister.

pune literary meet, PM Narendra Modi, Devendra Fadnavis, Fadnavis govt, pune news The statue of B R Ambedkar, which is to be installed at the venue of the literary meet. (Express Photo)

EVEN AS a few organisations are planning to protest against the alleged threats to Shripal Sabnis, president of the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, and hold a symbolic walk on Monday, the BJP said on Sunday it does not intend to hold any dialogue with the author and has demanded an immediate apology from him for “denigrating” Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The organisers, meanwhile, are ensuring Sabnis has an unhindered entry to the sammelan dias with BJP threat looming large that they will not let him address the meet.

The BJP rejected the idea of holding any dialogue with Sabnis — as raised by some authors — after the author told The Indian Express on Sunday that he was ready to discuss the issue with ‘select’ leaders of the party. However, Sabnis said, he will not hold any dialogue with people who have burnt his effigies or protested against him. He did not mind discussing the issue with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis or BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari. However, the deadlock continued with Bhandari stating that there is no question of having a dialogue with Sabnis until he apologises. “He has to simply apologise for making derogatory remarks against the Prime Minister. If he apologises, then there is no need for a dialogue. The matter stands closed,” said the BJP spokesperson, adding in the same breath, “His use of language against the Prime Minister makes him unsuitable to head the state’s top literary meet. If you carefully listen to his speech, it speaks poorly of the man who has been elected president of the Marathi Sahitya Sammelan,” said Bhandari. He went on to add that it was a ploy by Sabnis to make reckless remarks to garner publicity.

Asked on Chief Minister’s likely possibility of attending the literary meet, Bhandari said, “If someone uses this language, it will be difficult to trust him…he may cause more embarrassment.”

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Amar Sable, BJP MP, who is leading the protest against the author and has said that the party will create hurdles in him addressing the meet, said, “We don’t want to hold any talks with Sabnis. If he apologises for hurting the sentiments of BJP, we will accept it and consider the issue as closed.”

Sabnis, however, said he will hold a dialogue with BJP, but will not apologise. “I have been saying all along and will repeat that I will not apologise for praising the Prime Minister…I will not bow before BJP’s intolerance.

“The BJP, however, refused to reveal how it plans to stop Sabnis’ entry to the venue. “We will not reveal our plan. But, yes, we will stop Sabnis from reaching the dias during the literary meet. It will be a big shame for us if he makes it to the literary meet,” he said,adding that only an apology by Sabnis will resolve the issue and nothing else.


Sabnis said he will attend the meet — starting from January 15 at HA grounds in Pimpri — despite the protests. With BJP hardening its stand, pressure has been mounted on the organisers, the Dr D Y Patil Vidyapeeth Society, who are ensuring that all arrangements are in place.

“It is a big occasion for Pimpri-Chinchwad that is hosting the prestigious event for the first time in its history. However, this controversy has taken the sheen out of the event. It is unnecessary and could have been easily avoided,” said PD Patil, chairman of the society. “In next two days, if the controversy does not end, we will have to come up with some plan,” he said. Sources said the organisers are planning a “secret entry” for Sabnis if the controversy does not end. “I will ask Sabnis to end the controversy so that the literary meet is held peacefully,” he said. Patil, however, said Sabnis has expressed “regret” over his use of language in his speech against the Prime Minister. “Sabnis has sent a letter to the Chief Minister expressing regret over his choice of words. I have a copy of the letter,” Patil said. Meanwhile, organisations like the Socialist Party (India), Arogya Sena, Rashtra Seva Dal, Samajwadi Adhyapak Sabha, Samajwadi Mahila Sabha and Lokayat will hold a symbolic morning walk in the city to “express our solidarity with intellectuals like Shripal Sabnis.”

First published on: 11-01-2016 at 12:38:57 am
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