After Deepika, it is ‘time’ for Tejpal!

  • Tejpal or no Tejpal, Times Lit Fest gets its due!
  • Times Lit Fest announced Tarun Tejpal as a panelist
  • Announcement met with outrage on social media
  • Times Group bows down to public sentiment, drops Tejpal

(P Ravi)

Why TarunTejpal was even invited to Times Literature Festival? Despite him being one of the so called intellectual Indians of our times and a journalist and author, he is accused of rape and exploitation and the case is sub judice. And who other than a reputed media group like Times can understand the gravity of the charge in a country ridden by rape and exploitation of women. Yet the choice was made and evidently evoked not so kind remarks from across the strata on social media, especially Twitter. It was almost akin to a Bigg Boss wild card entry given to the most controversial of individuals if only to garner more TRPs; it doesn’t need rocket science to understand the choice of Tejpal, who would have been the right publicity material for the lit fest that still in its nascent stage, to grab headlines.

The lit fest organsiers announced Tejpal to be on a panel along with Basharat Peer and Mani Shankar Aiyar with journalist Manu Joseph as moderator. Answering the critics who expressed their outrage on social media, the organiser of the Fest, noted Times columnist Bachi Karkaria said in an interview, “The panel has nothing to do with his personal case. We are aware that this issue is sub judice, Tarun is not convicted and is out on bail. The case is not going to form any part of the discussion, and we have always found Tarun to be an articulate panelist.” Aiyar too had said that he had no issue with appearing on the panel along with Tejpal. “People do have very strong views on this, so I’m not surprised they have concerns. The man is under indictment, but he has the right to defend himself and while he’s on bail, there are no restrictions on where he could appear.” he told WSJ.

Towards the beginning of the week, however, good sense seemed to have prevailed or shall we call it Times Group has found its foil in social media and bowed to the public sentiment against the choice. And, Tejpal’s name was removed from the festival schedule. It was only last year that the noted journalist and founder of Tehelka magazine was accused of assaulting a junior colleague during a festival organised by his magazine in Goa.

On the side-lines of the issue, the Times Lit fest did have a field day on PR front – for the new mantra is any publicity is publicity after all. Who can forget the recent Deepika Padukone controversy that was kept successfully in the fore front by not just the social media, but also by the reputed newspaper itself?

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