New Delhi, Oct 13: Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma was on Tuesday dubbed as "arrogance personified" by the Congress which castigated him for making light of writers returning their Sahitya Academy award in protest against alleged stifling of freedom of speech.
"Mahesh Sharma Culture Minister-"Let Writers stop writing then we would see" Arrogance Personified! Uncultured Statement of Culture Minister," Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh said on micro-blogging site Twitter. Party's chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala spoke in similar vein.
"Uncultured arrogance of Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma who wants Indian writers to stop writing! Modiji's way of controlling dissent! Shame!".
"15 writers have returned their Sahitya Akademi awards citing stifling of Freedom of Speech under this BJP government," the opposition party said, adding, "Mr Prime Minister you have failed to uphold freedom of expression."
Former Union Minister Kapil Sibal turned lyrical on twitter to target the "culture of hate". "It's time for us to boldly state, we all oppose culture of hate; With blackening of Kulkarni's face, democracy has lost it's grace."
At least 21 authors have so far announced their decision to return their awards given by the Sahitya Akademi, and five writers have stepped down from official positions of the literary body, which in turn has convened an emergency meeting on October 23 to discuss the development.
"If you go back to people, who have done this and if we explore their motives and what has been their background, I think something revealing will come out," Sharma had said.
"If they say they are unable to write, let them first stop writing. We will then see," he reportedly said after writers protested against "rising intolerance" and the "communal" atmosphere.