Critic Showers Lavish Praise on Modi, Says Pak Visit was Invitation to Death; BJP Not Amused

Published: 02nd January 2016 03:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd January 2016 03:25 AM   |  A+A-

MUMBAI: President of the upcoming prestigious literary meet, Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, Shripal Sabnis, on Friday courted controversy by calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi by his name, evoking his past and referring to his “bravery” during his recent surprise visit to Pakistan.

Sabnis compared Modi’s stint as Gujarat Chief Minister and as Prime Minister while delivering a lecture on the importance of communication at a students’ literary meet at Pimpri near Pune. He was trying to explain how Modi was a changed man now but he called the PM by name and ‘colourfully’ described Modi as a brave person.

“Modi had a taint of Gujarat riots. He was not the PM in my dream. Now, he is roaming around the world taking names of Gandhi and Buddha. He has made an alliance of 34 countries against the terrorism of Islamic State by adding Gandhi and Buddha. Isn’t such person a nationalist?” Sabnis asked the students.

He seemed to lose control while commenting on Modi’s Pakistan visit. “The RSS pracharak went to Pakistan on Sharif’s birthday. He didn’t have any affection for Sharif. He went there out of his love for the country. It was a sign of invited death. Anything could have taken place there. It is a place of Hafiz Saeed and Dawood Ibrahim. Any bullet or bomb would have eliminated Modi in one day and we would have paid homage to Modi before we did to (poet) Mangesh Padgaonkar,” Sabnis said.

He later clarified that he was actually praising Modi. “I am a supporter of India’s PM not of an RSS pracharak. The Muslim countries are well-versed on the RSS’ anti-Muslim ideologies but still they welcomed Modi with broad heart. This is what I wanted to highlight. The media twisted my statement. They should understand that every story has a third side also, not only this side or that side,” Sabnis said. Maharashtra BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari, meanwhile, slammed Sabnis for his comments. “I expect the president of literary meet to speak on literature not on politics. If I speak on literature, the people will come to know about his contribution to literature,” Bhandari said, sarcastically.

Though he was elected to the post, Sabnis has been at the centre of criticism as he is neither an author nor a poet but a critic. Traditionally, a critic is not elected to the prestigious position.

Interestingly, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is expected to inaugurate the literary meet to be held between January 15 and 18 at Pimpri. Bhandari said he will write to Swaraj requesting her not to attend the meet after Sabnis’ remarks.

Earlier, Sabnis had justified the returning of Sahitya Academy awards in protest against ‘rising intolerance’. “I too would have returned my award but before that I would have established a communication with the government,” he had said.


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