His detractors describe him as the "saffronised" president of the Sahitya Akademi. Now Gopichand Narang has sparked off a controversy through his appointment of Agrahara Krishnamurthy (AK) as secretary to India’s premier literary body. The move has split up writers into two. AK, who is currently the institution’s regional secretary (South), has been selected by an Akademi panel to take over from K. Satchidanandan, the outgoing secretary. The group opposed to AK’s appointment figures luminaries like Mahasweta Devi and Krishna Sobti. They have submitted a memorandum to the president, recalling that AK underwent a CBI probe in a paper purchase scam. The agency recommended a departmental probe, AK was exonerated in February ’06. But writers like U.R. Ananthamurthy have sought "another independent inquiry" to clear AK’s name. Sources say the CBI report cited "sufficient material for initiating action" against AK, even sought a "major penalty" against him. The writers charge that all this has been hushed up, and Narang gave AK a clean chit. Outlook
has also learnt that the CBI has made fresh communication on the case.
AK supporters—chiefly fellow Kannada writers—have added a ‘North Vs South’ and ‘Hindi Vs Kannada’ ring to the spat. They have held dharnas in Bangalore in his support. Amid these, Narang’s other controversial appointments have come under fresh scrutiny, especially that of Khursheed Alam as programme officer in the akademi’s Mumbai centre. Alam allegedly submitted fake marksheets to the selection panel.