A day after senior journalist V Anbazhagan was told to vacate his stall at the Chennai book fair, for selling a book highlighting alleged corruption by the Tamil Nadu government, the BJP has called for more censorship on the material being sold there. Party spokesperson Narayanan Thirupathy tweeted on Sunday that organisers should not allow for the sale of books on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which is a banned organisation.
His statement comes even as the Times of India reports that books on the outfit and its slain chief Velupillai Prabhakaran are amongst the most sought after publications in the fair. The book fair, which is currently in its 43rd edition and is a popular event in the city around Pongal every year, has novels and other fiction set in the backdrop of the civil war that took place ten years ago. Publishers and customers told ToI that books both supporting and critical of the outfit are evoking interest.
The popular book fair courted controversy after the Booksellers' & Publishers' Association of South India (BAPASI) demanded that a senior journalist leave the venue on Sunday. BAPASI president RS Shanmugam told TNM that Anbazhagan was told to vacate the stall because he was displaying a book against the ruling government. His publication highlighted alleged corruption by Municipal Administration Minister P Velumani. Shanmugam claimed that rules did not allow for books banned by the government or against the government to be displayed.
However when TNM accessed the list of rules given to applicants, we found that there was no objection to material that highlighted matters against any ruling government.
Responding to this, BJP spokesperson Naryanan Thirupathy, stated, "If it is so , the organizers should not allow the sale of books on the Banned Organisation LTTE and Prabakaran, and ask the concerned Shops to vacate with immediate effect." (sic)
If it is so , the organizers should not allow the sale of books on the Banned Organisation LTTE and Prabakaran, and ask the concerned Shops to vacate with immediate effect. https://t.co/LvRr7gDstlâ€” Narayanan Thirupathy (@Narayanan3) January 12, 2020
He further sent messages to journalists emphasising the same, claiming that if books against the government were banned, then books on an organisation banned by the government must not be displayed either.
TNM has reached out to BAPASI for a comment on the BJP's demand and this copy will be updated when they respond.