?Comrades want to create a cultural gulag? -Sonal Mansingh
Terming her ?replacement? from the post of chairperson of Sangeet Natak Akademi as ?an leftists attack on cultural values of the country?, eminent Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi dancer, Sonal Mansingh, said that Leftists plotted for her removal. She said that the comrades were trying to create a cultural Gulag in the country. Claiming to set the record straight on the events of the past few weeks and demanding an inquiry into ?corrupt practices entrenched in the Akademi?, she said seeds for her removal had in fact been sown last year, as indicated by an article written by senior CPM leader Harkishen Singh Surjeet in his party mouthpiece, People'sDemocracy in October last year. In the article, ?De-saffronise our institutions?, Shri Surjit alleges, ?Sonal Mansingh, who campaigned for the BJP in the last parliamentary polls, continues in her position in the Lalit Kala Akademi?.
She described her ouster as an instance of unprecedented political interference in the country'spremier cultural body. She pointed out that Shri S. Jaipal Reddy, Minister for Culture, had asked her if she had really campaigned for the BJP. She add, ?I told him I did not and I had the moral courage to accept it if I had campaigned for the party.? Asked about her leanings towards the BJP, she said if knowing and speaking Sanskrit and being rooted to the culture of one'sexistence is being saffron, then she would not know what is saffron. ?Are we going to chop off the saffron colour of our national flag?? she questioned.
She said her refusal to participate in corruption in the institution was the reason for the tirade against her in the Akademi, while making a straight attack on three senior officials of the institution. Hitting out at the officials, whom she held responsible for unsavoury goings on in the institution, she demanded an immediate special revised audit and inquiry into an awards ceremony held in Guwahati in 2001, in which Rs 80 lakh were spent, and the ?Festival of Russia in India? in 2002, which had a budget of Rs one crore, before she became the chairperson in 2003. ?My constant refusal to be party to corrupt practices entrenched in the Akademi perpetrated by certain individuals and my refusal to overlook such criminal abuses of the system has resulted in this tirade against me. My personal commitment to democratic values is well known and needs no certificate from anyone?, she said.