Akademi members also accuse Krishna Murthy of favouring Kannadigas
The Central Sahitya Akademi is caught in a leadership crisis with its Secretary, the Kannada poet and writer Agrahara Krishna Murthy, having recently been suspended from his position, pending an inquiry by a four-member committee set up by the president of the Akademi, Sunil Gangopadhyay.
At a stormy meeting of the executive committee in Bhubhaneshwar on August 24 during a three-day literary festival organised by the Akademi, members accused Mr. Murthy of ‘financial irregularities and administrative lapses.’
He was also accused of favouring Kannada, though as a secretary he was responsible for all Indian languages.
Speaking to The Hindu from New Delhi, Mr. Murthy said he was “pained” by the recent developments.
“The members accuse me of recommending names of Kannadigas for the Padma awards. The list for Padma awards is always done in consultation with the President. If in all these years they have not had a problem with this, why has this become an issue just when my tenure as secretary will end in the next five months?” he said.
False reply to RTI?
The accusations against Mr. Murthy were based on documents that were furnished by an RTI applicant from Tamil Nadu.
Aziz Hajini, the representative of the Kashmiri language, told The Hindu from Srinagar said that as per norms, the Secretary had to draw up the list of Padma nominees in consultation with the President.
Although Mr. Murthy asserts that he had followed the procedure, Mr. Hajini disagrees.
“Since I had that document with me, I asked the President during the meeting. The President said he wasn’t consulted. It’s wrong to give a false reply to RTI,” explained Mr. Hajini, pointing out that six out of the 12 names recommended were of Kannadigas.
Several Kannada writers and academics along with members of the Kannada Advisory Committee have rallied in support of Mr. Murthy, condemning the charges of “favouritism to Kannada,” in a letter released to the media.
However, even here his support is divided, as many signatories later said they were ignorant of the charges of “financial and administrative lapses’ on Mr. Murthy’s part, and extended support only on the issue of his allegedly favouring Kannada.
Member of the Kannada Advisory Committee, playwright K. Marulasiddappa did concede that it is a lapse that the President had not been consulted in drawing up the Padma awards list, but also felt that as Mr. Murthy neither recommended people unworthy of the honour, nor benefited personally, suspension was far too extreme a step.
On the charges of financial irregularities, Mr. Murthy pleads innocence. He told The Hindu: “I wasn’t aware of the various components in my salary. If I have used office transport despite getting a conveyance allowance, I am willing to pay back.”
Mr. Hajini and said that if Mr. Murthy was not found guilty he should be “honoured and reinstated” as soon as the committee’s findings were out.