April 03, 2020
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The Dramatist's Pen Versus The Speaker's Word

The Dramatist's Pen Versus The Speaker's Word
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Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi, who has taken great pains to cultivate an image of mild-mannered gentility, is in the midst of a controversy. Earlier this week, playwright Vijay Tendulkar shot off a letter front-paged in a leading Marathi newspaper, objecting to Joshi presenting the Chaturang Foundation’s lifetime achievement award to eminent Marathi editor P. Bhagwat on December 22.

Tendulkar wasn’t one to mince words. He said Joshi’s work may be above suspicion, the same couldn’t be said about his character. Appealing to the organisation to rectify its "mistake", Tendulkar said: "It’ll pain Bhagwat fans like me to see him receiving an eminent award at the hands of such an impure person."

Tendulkar’s uncharitable remarks are not surprising. Some of Tendulkar’s plays, notably Sakharam Binder, have been at the receiving end of the Shiv Sena’s stick. Tendulkar’s latest outburst has, however, not received much support from the literary circuit. The only exception was Sena-baiter Pushpa Bhave, who said that Tendulkar was voicing the feelings of many others. She pointed out that as chief minister, Joshi had rejected the Srikrishna Commission report probing the Mumbai riots and that there was still a case pending against him in the courts. She went so far as to say: "...it is an insult to the Lok Sabha and to democracy to have Joshi as the speaker."

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