Sahitya Akademi chief Gopi Chand Narang not to seek re-election

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New Delhi, Dec 24 (UNI) Bowing to strident opposition from a group of prominent litterateurs, Sahitya Akademi president Gopi Chand Narang today announced that he would not seek re-election for the Akademi's top post.

''...considering all aspects, including the past conventions, I have taken a decision on my own to withdraw my name and not to seek re-election,'' Prof Narang said in a statement here.

Barely some days ago, Janwadi Lekhak Sangh (JLS) -- an All-India Association of Hindu and Urdu Writers -- had alleged that Prof. Narang was manipulating his re-election by violating all norms and moral values.

In a memorandum to Union Culture Minister Ambika Soni, JLS General Secretaries Chanchal Chauhan and Murlimanohar Prasad Singh accused Prof. Narang of packing the organisation with his ''followers and friends'' in order to ensure his re-election.

They also appealed Ms Soni to order an inquiry into the Akademi's alleged irregularities and financial bungling.

''Prof Gopi Chand Narang is now so emboldened that he has manipulated his sure re-election by inducting his followers and friends into the General Council even though most of them are unknown in their respective languages and literature,'' the memorandum said.

Countering the charges, Prof Narang said he had always endeavoured to follow the ''great legacy'' of the former presidents and ''uphold the traditions and conventions set by the Founding Fathers of this great institution.'' Expressing his gratitude to the members of the General Council and the Executive Board for their ''abundant cooperation'' and to his friends and supporters for their ''magnanimity and extreme kindness'' in proposing his name for re-election, he, however, said he had decided to withdraw his name.

''It certainly has been a great honour to serve this august institution and apex body of Indian literature,'' he said, thanking the government nominees, the Culture Ministry, the Secretary and staff of the Akademi and fellow writers across the Indian languages for their support to him.

In its memorandum, JLS had pointed out that ''just as an ordinary member of the General Council cannot be the member after one term, the same rule should be followed in the case of the Akademi's president and vice-president also.'' This was the only way to end the phenomenon of ''one-man one-language domination'' of the organisation, it said.

The signatories to the memorandum included Mahasweta Devi, Ajeet Cour, Krishna Sobti, Manglesh Dabral, Chitra Mudgal, Aslam Pervez, Satish Kalsekar, Vishnu Khare, Ashok Vajpeyi and Giriraj Kishore.

JLS had earlier submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Information and Broadcasting Minister S Jaipal Reddy, demanding a thorough inquiry into the alleged irregularities committed by Prof Narang in his capacity as Akademi President.

''This has now become all the more necessary now to save Sahitya Akademi from becoming the empire of an an individual who can utilise its funds for serving his own interest. We should not allow the dubious elements under the cover of autonomy or the ambiguity of rules and regulations to do away with the healthy traditions and moral values,'' said the memorandum.


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