RAJ THACKERAY REGRETS MNS OPPOSING INVITE TO NAYANTARA SEHGAL FOR MARATHI LITERARY MEET

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Monday expressed regret over his party activists opposing invitation to Sahitya Akadami award-winning author Nayantara Sehgal to a Marathi literary meet to be held in Vidarbha's Yavatmal in the second week of January.

Local leaders of the party had objected to inviting Ms. Sehgal to inaugurate the 92nd edition of annual Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan on the grounds that she writes in English and has no business to be called in for a Marathi literary event. Following threats from the local MNS leaders, the organisers had cancelled the invitation extended to Ms. Sehgal.

Mr. Thackeray, in a statement issued on Monday morning, said that even though one of his party workers opposed Ms. Sehgal, he being the president of the MNS does not oppose Ms. Sehgal. "We do not oppose [the decision to invite] Nayantara Sehgal to the sammelan. We wholeheartedly welcome her. She must come," he said.

Mr. Thackeray also expressed regret to the inconvenience caused to the organisers of the event. "I ask my party workers to not make any statements on such sensitive issues without consulting me," he said.

Meanwhile, protesting against the organisers bowing down to the censorship on Ms. Sehgal, at least 10 authors and journalists have already announced boycott of the event. Ms. Sehgal said to a television channel on Sunday that she was pained by the developments.