Puducherry: Pondy Lit Fest 2018 is under attack from the same people who vehemently defend the freedom of speech. Left parties comprising Dravidar Kazhagam and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi have objected to the lit fest and threatened a stir in front of Alliance Francaise, on Friday. Alliance Francaise is a part of the literature festival, that now is being branded as ‘right wing’.

AM Salim, the state secretary of the CPI who went to the extent of holding a press conference saying that his party, along with four others, will write to the French Consulate in Puducherry as well as to the French Embassy in New Delhi, objecting to it. Ask them what their objection is and they say, Alliance Francaise is being allowed as a venue for the lit fest, which they perceive as ‘an event promoted by the RSS’. However, there is hardly any evidence to substantiate that claim. 


Speaking exclusively to MyNation, Ajit Dutta, one of the organisers of Puducherry Lit Fest said, "Our curators have invited people from all spectrums. Few have decided not to accept our invitation. And they are the ones who are raising this issue". 

Puducherry Chief Minister Velu Narayanasamy, who is from the Congress, is an invitee, as well as the Lt Governor Dr Kiran Bedi. In spite of that, as strange as it may sound, Salim alleges that the current president of Alliance Francaise Lalit Verma is not a local and has an ‘agenda’ that seems close to that of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Apart from the chief minister and Bedi, union minister Smriti Irani is a guest in this lit fest as well that is going to be inaugurated on August 17 and will continue till August 19.


It is nothing short of ironic that it was the Left that had championed the cause of free speech, be it during the Padmaavat movie release or the Kalburgi murder; and it is the same people who are blocking a literary festival that will freely discuss ideas and celebrate literature. Last year, in a ghastly incident in Bengaluru, not very far from Puducherry, when Gauri Lankesh was gunned down, it was the very same Left that had called the prevailing situation in the country as an ‘undeclared emergency’ as free thinkers are silenced. 

The fest will be attended by people from all walks of life: literature, journalism, policy-making and the government alike. Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, author Amish Tripathi who is well known for his Shiva trilogy, NITI Aayog chairman Vivek Debroy, columnist Kanchan Gupta, actor Pallavi Joshi are among some of the big names that will be attending the freethinking sessions of the literature festival that Puducherry finds pride in.