Two young Kannada writers, who were to take part in the Bangalore Literature Festival starting next weekend, have decided to opt out, taking exception to the views of one of its organisers who had criticised the returning of awards by writers in protest against the “climate of intolerance.”
T.K. Dayanand and Arif Raja, who were to take part in the Kannada literary discussions at the festival, have said that they did not agree with organiser and author Vikram Sampath, who had criticised award vapsi in a published article. He was also signatory to a recent open letter by a section of historians who opposed what they called “imposition by the Leftist School of a legislated history.” Mr. Dayanand and Mr. Raja have said in their statement that while Mr. Sampath is free to hold his views, it was “embarrassing” for them to be associated with anyone who “chooses to stand with a system that aligns with an intolerant, right wing political system” and take “anti-people views.”
They said writers returning awards were “conscience keepers” of a society that is sliding towards intolerance.
However, taking a contrary view, writer Shashi Deshpande, who quit her Central Sahitya Akademi post recently, said she would participate in the event. Speaking to The Hindu , she said: “I am presuming and hoping Mr. Sampath will keep his personal views out of this. Organisers’ personal views cannot come in the way of a festival. It is a literary festival and any issues can be discussions, including this. Or one can opt out completely,” she said.
When contacted, Mr. Sampath said he was “shocked” by the development.
“I respect their viewpoints. But I am an individual with independent views and the festival has no agenda or ideology. If we did, we would not have brought together people with such diverse views.” He said the two writers could have expressed their views using the festival platform.
They did not agree with the views of Bengaluru Literature Festival organiser Vikram Sampath