Alliance Francaise accused of violating contract

The Alliance Francaise management reportedly cited Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s death as the reason for its inability to allow hosting of PondyLitFest in its auditorium.

The Alliance Francaise management reportedly cited Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s death as the reason for its inability to allow hosting of PondyLitFest in its auditorium.   | Photo Credit: T_Singaravelou

Event management company says the linguo-cultural body gave in to fringe elements to change venue of PondyLitFest

The controversy surrounding the Alliance Francaise, one of the world's earliest international linguo-cultural centres, took a new turn with the organisers of the recently-held PondyLitFest accusing the institution of “contractual violation and reneging on commitments”.

In a letter to the Director Alliance Francaise Pondicherry (a copy of which is available with The Hindu), which was also marked to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Counseller de Cooperation et d’action Culturelle Bertrand de Harting, Indologue Events and Ideas Pvt Ltd., the event management company that organised “Bharat Shakti: The Pondy Lit Fest” from August 17 to 19, expressed its “strongest objection against the manner in which Alliance Francaise de Pondicherry reneged at the very last moment from being our venue partner.”

The company claims that the Alliance Francaise had committed to offer its auditorium and Maison Colombani for hosting the PondyLitFest in February. Since then, there had been several exchanges of munication between the two organisations discussing various possibilities and the topics that would be discussed during the sessions at the PLF, the letter from Partha Hariharan, managing director of the event management company, said. Besides, Mr. Hariharan, the letter was signed by Alo Sud and Ajit Dutta.

Change of guard

The letter states that on August 10, the Alliance Francaise, represented by the then President Lalit Verma (a co-curator of the event with Makarand Paranjape) — Mr. Verma was recently replaced in a change of guard at the institution — organised a press meet in which it was explicitly mentioned that Alliance Francaise was one of the primary venues of the multi-session event.

It was made clear that the institution was only a host and was not responsible for any of the views expressed in the festival, the letter said.

After brochures, posters, banners and invitations were sent out, barely five hours before the opening of the event, it was “verbally communicated” that the Pondy Lit Fest would not be held in the Alliance Francaise Auditorium and Maison Colombani.

The PLF organisers allege that in the run up to the festival, “pressure was applied on the Alliance Francaise to withdraw its commitment.”

“The Alliance Francaise Foundation even put out a press release regretting our partnership. It is obvious that the Alliance Francaise gave in, despite the repeated assurances given by you and your office, to such pressure. Atal Bihari Vajpayee's demise was, we believe, an excuse by the Alliance Francaise to back out. In the past, the Alliance Francaise has hosted a variety of speakers of all shades and views but this time you succumbed to pressure to disassociate with us,” the letter said.

“We will therefore formally request the Government of India to take notice of this action of withdrawing your venue partnership, thereby validating what was wrongly said about the festival by a few fringe elements. As we believe that as an organization associated with a foreign country, your action jeopardised exactly what you are mandated to do in India, we will bring this to the notice of the authorities concerned,” the letter said.

In spite of repeated efforts to elicit a response from Alliance Francaise, the institution chose not to react.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 11:52:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/alliance-francaise-accused-of-violating-contract/article24962792.ece

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