Session on RSS lands Jaipur literature fest in controversy

Session on RSS lands Jaipur literature fest in controversy

With just a fortnight to go for the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), a session on RSS ideologues it plans to host has landed the event in controversy.

JLF’s official schedule reveals that RSS head of communication department Manmohan Vaidya and its joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale will be in conversation with author and journalist Pragya Tiwari on January 19, the festival’s second day.

The session titled ‘Of Saffron and the Sangha’ will last for an hour between 5.15 and 6.15 pm at Char Bagh, one of the biggest venues at Diggi House. The session with RSS thinkers has created consternation among authors and politicians, who question the festival’s commitment to freedom of speech.

“This is the first time in a decade that the JLF has invited RSS members to talk about their ideology,” Rajasthan Congress spokesperson Dr Archana Sharma told DH.

“Both the leaders have nothing to do with literature. They would use the platform to spread the saffron ideology. The session should have had a third participant representing other ideology,” she added.

Sonjoy Roy, director of the JLF, the world’s largest free literature festival, refutes the notion that right wing ideology is represented in the festival for the first time. “We have had Tarun Vijay and Murli Manohar Joshi in the past. The JLF stands for diversity and includes voices from all sections,” he said.

The absence of poet-translator Ashok Vajpeyi, scholar-poet Uday Prakash and K Satchidanandan — prominent faces in last year’s ‘award Waapsi’ against growing intolerance — has also raised questions over support for the festival among free thinkers.

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