With Bangalore Literature Festival (BLF) organiser Vikram Sampath stepping aside, the other organisers will make an attempt to reach out to the three Kannada writers who had walked out taking exception to the views of Mr. Sampath on “Award Wapsi” campaign.
Apart from Arif Raja, T.K. Dayanand and O.L. Nagabhushana Swamy, many other writers had begun expressing their reservations about their participation, sources said.
Persons in the know said that writers walking out of the festival, citing the views of Vikram Sampath – which they termed “pro-establishment” and “pro right-wing politics” – had picked up momentum.
“If left unaddressed, it could have led to more writers from the liberal end of the spectrum walking out,” said the source. The decision of Mr. Sampath to step down as an organiser was taken on Saturday afternoon and was triggered by a senior Urdu writer and poet expressing his reservations, sources said.
V. Ravichandar, a member of the organising committee, said they had to either call it off or go ahead with a truncated festival, which would have made it monochromatic with all liberal writers pulling out, or call it off completely.
“Both were not viable and so Vikram Sampath graciously stepped down,” he said. He added that the organisers would now try to convince writers to reconsider their decision and participate in the event.
In his statement, Mr. Sampath said: “Since the protesting writers had a problem with my presence and involvement with the festival rather than the festival’s nature and character... I am hopeful that my withdrawing of involvement will now make them more comfortable with participating.”
Speaking to The Hindu , he said that the entire scene was ‘getting a little vicious’ and there were ‘personalised attacks’ calling him ‘communal’.
He claimed his articles on the issue of Award Wapsi and Leftist historians were ‘misunderstood and misquoted’.
“Why can’t the writers talk to other fellow writers and come to a conclusion? If on the one hand, I am bound by my freedom as a writer and thinking individual, and on the other as an organiser of the festival, I would choose the former,” he said.
The writers who had opted out earlier said they are yet to receive any communication from BLF, post the stepping aside of Mr. Sampath.
The writers who opted out said they are yet to receive any communication from the organisers