New Delhi: Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has said the Gujarat riots of 2002 are not comparable with the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in 1984, rejecting Infosys chief N R Narayanamurthy`s view that the post-Godhra violence should not stand in the way of Narendra Modi becoming prime minister.
While describing as "absolute shame" the fact that those responsible for the 1984 riots had not been brought to judgement, he sought to differentiate between the 1984 riots and those that occurred in Gujarat under the watch of Chief Minister Modi.
Sen argued that Congress leaders, Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi, who were fighting elections today, were not the people responsible for the anti-Sikh riots. No one had accused them of that, whereas Modi was the Chief Minister when the riots took place.
Moreover, he said that the anti-Sikh riots were not something that fitted into the Congress philosophy. "There is no philosophy of killing Sikhs in the Congress," he told a TV news channel in an interview.
On the other hand, he said that treatment of Muslims in Gujarat raised the question as to whether they were treated as second class citizens. "That is a continuing problem," he said, adding Narayanamurthy was a great friend of his but he did not agree with him on this issue.
Asked whether the recent Assembly poll results showed that there was a Modi wave or more of an anti-Congress wave which he was riding, Sen replied, "I would tend to think that there is an anti-Congress wave perhaps in the sense that the party is exhausted.
"Perhaps, in a sense, one of the big things about Modi is that any firm leader has an advantage when the leadership problems in Congress remains unresolved."
Asked if he thought the Congress should formally declare Rahul Gandhi as prime ministerial candidate, Sen said, "They have to have a game strategy. Election is not won by promising to win elections. I don`t think what the Congress strategy is at this time in winning the election."
On the rise of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Sen said he welcomed it very much although he had been skeptical of the likelihood of its performance.
"In this case there are two reasons to be delighted--one that it has happened and second - we Indians are unduly pessimistic and anything that demonstrates that they have gone for optimism must be a good thing. So from both points of view I`m delighted."
Sen said he thought the challenge for Aam Aadmi was very easy in Delhi and hoped that the new party would become a very major force for Indian politics.
Asked whether the Supreme Court judgement re-criminalising homosexuality had disappointed him, Sen said, "Very disappointed would be an understatement.....I wouldn`t pretend to know more than SC judges do, but you could still ask the question was the reasoning right."
He said it is an issue of protection of minority rights and human rights.
"I think to say that you have to wait for the blessing of the majority in the Parliament in order to protect the human rights and the rights of the minorities and SC wouldn`t be anything to it, seems to be a failure of understanding of the role of SC," Sen said.