The ongoing Kerala Literature Festival is embroiled in a controversy after a statement made by the festivalâ€™s director garnered attention.
K Satchidanandan, the festival director, earlier remarked that he was concerned if people with extreme right-wing ideologies should be a part of the literature festival.
"They are not part of a particular party or anything, but people who believe in democracy (are part of this). At the same time, we have a concern whether people who don't believe in all these should be part of it," he said.
Terming the statement as â€śundemocraticâ€ť, Union Minister Alphons Kannanthanam said that platforms like these must be used for communicating ideas that support different ideologies.
â€śI heard the statement made by Satchidanandan and it is undemocratic. Platforms like these must be used for creating a space for healthy discussions and communicating ideas that support different ideologiesâ€ť, he said.
â€śYes, we should not allow people who propagate anti-nationalism to be part of such fests. But I must say that I have heard speakers making anti-national statements in this festâ€ť, Alphons added.
Clarifying his stand, Satchidanandan told the media that Alphons misunderstood his statement.
â€śSupporters and thinkers of right-wing ideologies are not commonly participants of this literature fest. At the same time, the speakers and participants are not expected to be from a particular party or supporters of a particular ideology, but we are not appreciative of speakers who do not respect democracy and the constitution,â€ť Satchidanandan said.
â€śI only intended to point at people who make anti-national statements. It would be wrong to say that we donâ€™t encourage right-wing thinkers in the fest. There are speakers who support right-wing ideologyâ€ť, he added.
BJP State General Secretary K Surendran put a Facebook post, lashing out at Satchidanandan.
â€śWhat does Satchidanandan think of himself? He has made the literary fest a CPI(M) affair and he is justifying his actions. He has said that those who represent BJP should not even be called for panel discussions. But he has no shame in accepting the Rs 20 lakh offered by the central government to organize the fest. Kerala will not tolerate such people who have not understood the value of democracyâ€ť, the post said.