Coming out strongly against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen today said he does not want him to become India’s prime minister as he does not have secular credentials.
The prominent economist also criticized Modi’s model of governance saying he did not approve of it.
“Yes, I don’t want him,” Sen told a news channel in reply to a question on whether he wanted him as his prime minister. As an Indian citizen, I don’t want Modi as my PM… He has not done enough to make minorities feel safe,” he said.
On being asked why he did not want so, Sen said, “He could have first of all been more secular and he could have made the minority community feel more secure.”
“No, I don’t approve of it… I don’t think the record is very good. I think I don’t have to be a member of the minority in order to feel insecure… We Indians don’t want a situation where the minority feels insecure and could legitimately think that there was an organized violence against them in 2002. I think that is a terrible record and I don’t think Indian Prime Minister as an Indian citizen… Of who has that kind of record? No, I do not.”
Sen said physical infrastructure in Gujarat may be good but Modi has not done enough for minorities or for the majority. He also said that the Gujarat model needs to do much more on the health and education sectors and bring equity. Modi could have made the majority community feel that they are not maltreating the minority and going against the long Indian tradition of being tolerant.
“He could have also taken both of the facts that Gujarat record in education and healthcare is pretty bad and he has to concentrate on that… as much as he is concentrating quietly as it has happened on physical infrastructure,” the Nobel laureate said.
BJP recently anointed Modi as chairman of its election campaign committee. Asked to make a comparison between Modi and Nitish Kumar, Sen said, “That comparison is slightly unfair. Nitish is dealing with the poorest in India, Modi is dealing with a relatively richer state. They have a long history of business success. I think in his condition Nitish is showing a great vision. In a way that will be very important for the future of Bihar.”
He also lauded Kumar’s model of governance in Bihar, saying his record is “very good”.
“Bihar is the worst state in the country…Nitish Kumar’s focus on education and healthcare is definitely admired and efficient. What he is doing, is trying to learn more from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. He is trying to have an educated, healthy labor force. The basis for it – high capital growth rate. That has worked again and again across the world. Yes, I do think his record at this moment is very good,” Sen said.
The noted economist also said the poor should vote as per their interest rather than voting for food, education or healthcare offered to them as subsidies. I’m asking for an intelligent thinking of what justice demands… What I want is people should look into their needs but not overlook every time fiscal issue is raised and not say we can’t do this for the poor because we can’t afford it.”
He said though the middle class is surrounded by subsidies yet it opposes schemes for the poor and talks about fiscal responsibility arises when there is a scheme for the poor. “I find the double standards of the prosperous very worrying,” Sen said.
He said he has always opposed license raj but would support it for providing nourishment and healthcare to the poor. “I have never been a supporter of license raj. Now because I say I want nourishment and health for the poor, I am supposed to be an advocate for license raj,” he said.