Participants see much of politics, less of literature

Participants see much of politics, less of literature

The sixth edition of the Bangalore Literature Festival came to an end on Sunday, with former Jawaharlal Nehru Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar taking the spotlight.

Kumar who cancelled at the last moment in BLF 2016, captured the attention of the audience with his speeches on Gauri Lankesh and on nationalism.

Advisor to BLF, V Ravichandar said that they had received a great response from the community in Bengaluru. According to his estimation, at least 25,000 people took part in the fest this year compared to 15,000 in 2016. "There was a lot of energy and community participation. Now, there is more expectation from us that the next edition has to be even better," he said.

Some attendees were, however, not too satisfied with the speakers and sessions. Bindu Manoj, who has been attending BLF since the beginning thought this edition was more about politics and less about literature. "The first two-three years were the best with more literature. This year there was too much politics and too much bashing of the right-wing. There was no one from the other side, so it was not balanced," she said. Even the sessions which were about literature were damp, she said.

Subodh Sankar, from the festival team, said the organisers did not intend to represent either the left or the right wing. "It was not something intentional. It just so happened that the people whom we chose had similar ideologies," he said.

About the fest being too political, Sankar said it only reflected the trend in non-fiction in the past year. "We have taken a balance of fiction and non-fiction writers. Since the last festival, majority of the non-fiction books have been political and the fest only reflects that," he said.

Other festival-goers felt that some of the sessions could have used better moderators. During the discussion on 'Aadhaar-Dystopia or Utopia', the audience raised their voice against moderator Charles Assisi. They were ticked that Assisi was taking too long to ask his questions to panelists Jairam Ramesh, Arun Maira and Sanjay Jain. There were voices shouting 'What is your question?' and 'Give them the mic!'.

This repeated in the final session on 'Nationalism, Populism and the threat to Global
Liberal Order'. The audience got restless with moderator Harish Bijoor's long introduction to the topics, prompting him to say 'Don't shoot the moderator'.

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