Sahitya Akademi award-winning author Vikram Sampath has stepped down as one of the directors of Bangalore Literature Festival in the wake of three Kannada writers deciding to boycott the event over his remarks on the return of awards and stance on the Tipu Sultan row.
"I see from media reports and personal conversations in the last few days that several of my fellow authors and speakers have cited these two -- Tipu Sultan and 'award-wapsi' rows -- as the reasons why they are withdrawing from the upcoming edition of Bangalore Literature Festival (BLF) that I, along with other citizens of Bengaluru, founded in 2012," Sampath told PTI here.
After quitting the post yesterday, Sampath said he hopes that the protesting writers would feel more comfortable about participating in the event following his withdrawal.
"Since the protesting writers had a problem with my involvement in the festival rather than the festival's nature and character, I am hopeful that my decision to withdraw will make them more comfortable about participating," he said.
Asked if the organisers had approached him about participation in BLF, Sampath said, "I am listed as a panellist in the festival programme. If the organisers want me to speak at the festival, I am happy to be there. Else, I will enjoy the sessions from home via live-streaming."
Sampath had taken a stand against the move by eminent personalities to return their government-conferred awards amidst claims of rising intolerance in the country and said vis-a-vis the Tipu Sultan row that there was a "need for recognising multiple narratives in Indian historiography".
He today asserted that he was not apologetic about his articles and continues to cherish the freedom of expression in the country.
"I stand by my article(s) written in the past. I am not apologetic about them in any manner and will continue to cherish the freedom that my country gives me to air my opinion fearlessly," he said.
"However, in the interest of the organisation that I founded and nurtured, which is now being linked to my personal views and targeted, I have taken the painful decision of stepping down from all responsibility of organising BLF," Sampath added.