Congress, BJP cross swords over Amartya Sen



Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: The war of words between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress over Noble laureate Amartya Sen, who had recently expressed his opposition to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, grew shriller on Thursday.

While the BJP today distanced itself from party MP Chandan Mitra's remarks against Sen that the Bharat Ratna given to him be taken back, the Congress dubbed the remarks as example of the fascist mindset of the opposition party.

Slamming the BJP, Congress leader and Union I&B Minister Manish Tewari said, “Is this not a fascist mindset?”

“Do BJP leaders believe in freedom of speech? This is an attack on freedom of expression,” Tewari told reporters.

The I&B Minister further stated “Are people not entitled to a view?”and asked, “What has Amartya Sen done?”

Tewari even took a jibe at the BJP by saying, “Has someone ever demanded taking away Bharat Ratna given to a person?”

The controversy erupted after Amartya Sen, in a recent interview, said, "As an Indian citizen I don't want Modi as my PM, he has not done enough to make minorities feel safe."

He also criticised Modi's model of governance and said he does not approve of his model. "Physical infrastructure in Gujarat may be good but Modi has not done enough for minorities or for the majority," he said.

Reacting to comments, Mitra tweeted, "Amartya Sen says he doesn't want Modi to be India's PM. Is Sen even a voter in India? Next NDA government must strip him of Bharat Ratna."

"Amartya Sen doesn't want Modi as PM, rates him below Nitish. For this sin BJP wants to strip his Bharat Ratna. Isn't it height of intolerance," tweeted Congress leader Shakeel Ahmad.

Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy too hit out at Amartya Sen and endorsed Chandan Mitra's demand. "I had opposed his Bharat Ratna even at the time the NDA government had given him the Bharat Ratna. So I fully support Chandan Mitra's demand. If a scholar has consistently had an anti-India stance in his writing, then he will surely face flak for it. Now that he has the Bharat Ratna, he should be more careful and more responsible," Swamy said.

Another well-known economist, Jagdish Bhagwati, has also criticised Amartya Sen, saying he's the only economist to have hurt India's poor.

Earlier on Wednesday, BJP leader Kirti Azad had said Sen should not get influenced by anyone and should concentrate on his work.