Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Sunday advised fellow politicians not to interfere in “other fields”.
The senior leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was speaking at the valedictory function of an annual Marathi literary meet at Yavatmal, which has been embroiled in a controversy after an invitation to noted writer Nayantara Sahgal was withdrawn by the organisers.
Without making a direct reference to the row, Mr Gadkari said, “Politicians should learn not to interfere in other fields. The people in universities, educational institutions, literature and poetry should be dealing with their (respective) areas.”
“When I say there should not be any interference, it does not mean there should not be any contact between the people from the field of literature and politicians,” he added.
“During Emergency, the speeches of (Marathi) writers like Durga Bhagwat and P L Deshpande drew bigger crowds than political rallies. Both of them, however, returned to literature after the election. They did not even seek political postings such as a Rajya Sabha membership,” the Union minister for road transport and highways noted.
While Durga Bhagwat had criticised the Emergency openly, Deshpande had campaigned for the Janata Party after the Emergency was lifted and the polls were announced in 1977.
“There should be cooperation, coordination and communication between writers and politicians. Lack of communication leads to miscommunication and then, arguments,” Mr Gadkari said.
“We should only respect the person who is expressing the opposite views,” he added.
Ms Sahgal, a noted English-language writer who was at the forefront of the “award wapsi” campaign a few years ago, was invited to inaugurate the 92nd Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, which started at Yavatmal on January 11.
But the organisers of the event withdrew the invite subsequently, after local leaders of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) opposed the invitation to the “English-language writer”.
The decision drew flak from several quarters even as MNS chief Raj Thackeray said it was not his party’s official stand. Opposition parties alleged that it was the BJP which did not want Ms Sahgal to attend the meet, a charge the Maharashtra government denied.