While the organisers of the festival said they stand by their invitation to the 'Midnight's Children' author, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot made it plain to Home Minister P Chidambaram that his visit was being resented by the local people, and could lead to trouble.
A revised schedule of the five-day literary gathering and its sessions made no mention of Rushdie's appearance. However, the author figures in the list of speakers. The festival organisers came out with an ambiguous statement, leaving everyone guessing.
"Salman Rushdie will not be in India on 20th Jan due to a change in his schedule. The festival stands by its invitation to Mr Rushdie," festival producer Sanjoy K Roy said.
Earlier in the day, Gehlot met Chidambaram here and told the Home Minister that the people of Rajasthan "do not want" Rushdie to come and had made representations to the state government about their feelings. "I don't have any official information about whether Rushdie is coming or not. There is no official communication to us... There is a reaction among the locals, they don't want Salman to come," Gehlot told reporters after the meeting.
Gehlot said his Chief Secretary was in touch with the organisers of the literature festival from January 20 to 25. "No state government will want a law and order situation. I have informed the Centre about the prevailing sentiments," Gehlot said.