Writers raise concerns over ‘party politics’ in Kannada Sahitya Parishat elections
There are fears that this trend will only ruin the cultural autonomy of the organisation in the long run
The interference of “party politics” in the upcoming Kannada Sahitya Parishat (KSP) elections, scheduled for November 21 and for which campaigning is on in full swing, has caused concern among many writers, other candidates, and former office-bearers of the parishat.
BJP MLA for Gangavathi Paranna Munavalli recently told mediapersons that they had instructions from the party to support Mahesh Joshi for the post of State president of the parishat. Sources in the party said the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh had backed his candidature. Dr. Joshi, former deputy director-general at Doordarshan, is one of the 21 contestants for the president’s post.
A host of writers, led by S.G. Siddaramaiah and K. Marulasiddappa, has released a statement condemning “party politics” in the parishat elections and appealed to both the party and the candidate to desist from the same. “The Kannada Sahitya Parishat, with over a century-long history, is a representative institution of Kannadigas and till date all candidates, office-bearers and political parties have exercised restraint and kept the space free of party politics and maintained the autonomy of the parishat. It is concerning that this is now being compromised. Though anybody can associate with any political party and such persons can be part of the parishat, carrying out elections in such a way that the autonomy of the parishat may be compromised is condemnable,” the statement said, appealing for all concerned to keep the parishat free of “party politics” irrespective of the political affiliations.
Other candidates in the fray have also expressed concern over political parties “intruding” in the election process. Shekhar Gowda Malipatil, a contestant, said this trend would only ruin the cultural autonomy of the parishat in the long run, and in the short run skew the poll fray, denying other candidates a level- playing field. Another contestant, V.C. Channe Gowda, said if unchecked, parishat elections would degenerate to become “gram panchayat like” where parties fight through their proxies.
However, Dr. Joshi said as a candidate he had sought the support of members of all political parties as they were also members of the parishat and claimed he was “politically neutral”.
“I recently met the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda of the JD(S) who has also expressed his support for me,” he said.