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Rejoinder: Why have ex-Gujarat govt officials become so active in Sahitya Parishad polls?

Prakash N Shah: Writer-activist
By Natubhai Parmar*
Some of those who once served the Gujarat government in senior positions have suddenly become very active. They are seeking to influence the Gujarati literary atmosphere by taking an unusually keen interest in the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad elections, which are currently taking place via postal ballots.
The results of the polls, in which more than 3,000 Parishad members are casting their votes,will be out in October last week. As voting is taking place, controversy has erupted following two such ex-officials contesting the post of Parishad’s president.
No doubt, it would have been better if, taking into account the healthy tradition of the Parishad, the president was elected unanimously. In the past, such stalwarts like Narayan Desai of the Gandhi katha fame, who also happens to be the son of Mahadev Desai, Mahatma Gandhi’s secretary, among other prestigious writers, are known to have become Parishad presidents unanimously.
This time, however, three writers are contesting the Parishad polls. Of these three, Harikrushna Pathak and Harshad Trivedi, are former state government officials. The third candidate, Prakash N.Shah, is writer-cum-activist and edits the Gujarati fortnightly ‘Nirikshak’.
As a keen observer of the ongoing Parishad election scenario, I can smell how bureaucratic-minded writers and their followers are in no mood to accept Prakash N Shah, a human rights activist, as Parishad president.
Harshad Trivedi, Harikrushna Pathak: Ex-state officials
One of them, himself is an ex-official with the state government, Dankesh Oza, has been canvassing for his preferred candidate, Harshad Trivedi, who was for a long time as a senior official in the state-owned Gujarat Sahitya Academy. He has raised several questions (see Counterview) about Prakash N Shah, including why the latter has been using the Parishad logo for canvassing in ‘Nirikshak’, as also in his social media campaign.
Following Dankesh Oza’s social media posts, Prakash N Shah humbly decided to withdraw the logo. Interestingly, he did this even though Parishad election officer, PV Trivedi, a retired Gujarat cadre IAS bureaucrat, never objected to the use of the logo. Yet, hype was sought to be created to the extent that an impression was created that Prakash N Shah would withdraw.
Natubhai Parmar
Dankesh Oza is a known supporter of Harshad Trivedi. A joint appeal by the supporters to elect Harshad Trivedi as president of the Praishad includes his name.
Dankesh Oza’s social media drive has, no doubt, spread like wildfire. His only aim seems to be to ensure the victory of Harshad Trivedi by hook or by crook. Harikrushna Pathak, the other ex-official, is contesting the elections without any kind of publicity and appears convinced that his image as a writer and a person with neutral opinion would ensure his victory.
Dankesh Oza is trying to crusade very hard for Harshad Trivedi, even seeking to project himself as neutral. One should, however, remember: Politics and literature are two different things. Politics never suits literature.
One should also remember that Parishad elections are for the betterment of Gujarati literature. So, the winner’s role should serve only one purpose – of being a keen devotee of Gujarati language -- Goddess Saraswati.
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*Former editor of a Dalit periodical, Dalit rights activist, formerly with Gujarat information department. This is a rejoinder to Dankesh Oza's article Gujarat literati flutter: State Akademi autonomy curb a Sahitya Parishad poll issue? (Counterview, September 28, 2020)

Comments

Ashok Shrimali said…
Very well argued by Natubhai for how to save Gujarati literature without political control. This is a high time to raise our voice for autonomy of any institutions whether it's literature, art, cultural or so.
Paresh Naik said…
Very well written.

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