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Is Kannada writer Ananthamurthy and Amartya Sen right in taking an explicit political side against Modi?
Noted Kannada writer and Jnanpeeth award winner U R Ananthamurthy has recently said that he would not live in a country with Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister.

In an interview published on 21 September, 2013 edition of the Hindu, Ananthamurthy described himself as anti-Congressist and a former supporter of socialist leaders, Jayaprakash Narayan and Ram Monohar Lohia. He said that his biggest objection to Modi becoming Prime Minister of India was that Modi had no sense of introspection and no inner life.

According to him Modi could neither reflect ancient India nor could he buid a model India. Ananthamurthy further said that India needed people with openness to cultures and not a man without introspection.

In a similar case noted economist and Noble Laureate Amartya Sen in an interview given to a national TV channe in July this year had said that he did not approve of Modi becoming the Prime Minister of India. He said that Modi’s record was not good and also that one didn’t have to be a member of minority in order to feel insecure.

He further said that Indians didn’t want a situation where the minority feel insecure and could legitimately think that there was an organized violence against them in 2002. Sen also said that he would not interact with India under the leadership of Modi.

Well, in India people are free to keep any kind of opinion they consider correct and as free men of a rather liberal society for persons like themselves, Ananthamurthy and Sen are free to express their political opinions.

Both are anyway free to choose their homes anywhere they want. But the argument is why did they say so? India is a fully democratic country and Modi can get elected for the country’s top job only through the direct and indirect choices of a majority of its people.

Modi can never dream to become India’s next Prime Minister unless the BJP does not turn out to be the single largest party in the next general elections and NDA either attracts sufficient number of allies than it is already having currently or it gets their outside support. All would be chosen by the public of India and they must be knowing the consequences of supporting Modi. Or else, Modi cannot become the Prime Minister. It is as simple as this.

There is no question of much rigging and seduction of public in upcoming elections as the Election Commission is going to be tougher this time. Much of that didn’t happen in the previous general elections either. Therefore, elections would, in all likelihood, be held free and fair.

So what is the prime objection to the Modi’s candidature? Is it because some people think that he is communal or minimally he does not have high secular credentials?  If he is chosen,  it is the people of India who would choose him. So if people of India choose him as the next Prime Minister, then what others can do, who don’t agree with a majority’s verdict. Stay outside of India? Funny!

Sen is anyway a non-resident Indian (NRI). And if it is agreed that there would be a minimum of 3% relative national swing in favor of the BJP and almost that much swing away from INC then both the national parties would get almost same percentage of votes. Each voter has one vote and anyway value of the BJP voters just cannot be lower than that of the INC voters. So what’s the fuss?

The argument is ideology. I distinctly and clearly remember noted writer and social activist Arundhati Roy rejecting India conducting nuclear tests in May 1998 even if some of those weapons were implanted on her brain, as she said so in a write up in Outlook.

The fact is that they would have, in that case, certainly made her a superwoman. Interesting! And daring too! Such an ambitious female not wanting to become a superwoman! One who did not understand politics, military matters and international relations that well and gave a verdict on such sensitive issue as nuclear capability just because at that time in 1998 almost half of the population of India was living below official poverty line!

The money spent on strategic matters could not have reached poor anyway. The fact is that her opinion was taken very seriously by many in India. All possible views in India have some takers. But sure, Ms. Roy is free to express herself in anyway she wants.

When I listen to live televised Parliamentary debates, many times I find the arguments by the Left parties genuine. People like Somnath Chatterjee, Prakash Karat, A Raja and others have given many valid arguments during the Parliamentary discussions. To keep record straight and make things clear I fully agree that Left is a genuine andvalid political opinion in India.

From the interviews it appears that Ananthamurthy’s political opinion is close to almost 5% away from the Center towards the Left and that of Sen’s would be around 2-3% away from the Center towards the Left. Both are more or less at the moderate Center-Left side of Indian political spectrum.

This is particularly valid political opinion. In fact, all political opinions in India have some legitimacy; many times equal for different persons concerned under different circumstances. But still one should be careful in making general statements.

If Ananthamurthy and Sen wanted to attribute their statements having origin in Gandhism then I must say that they grossly misinterpreted it. Though nobody can question his secular credentials still Gandhi was a Hindu practitioner, having deep faith in major principles of Hinduism. He led India’s freedom struggle in a Centrist way dominated and influenced by the principles of Hinduism.

No one should forget that India’s freedom struggle was largely a middle class Hindu renaissance, at least initially. The demand for partition of British India and for creation of a Muslim majority Pakistan rose very late, at least at popular level. Other than being a saint Gandhi was a shrewd politician as well. All his pacifist and secular talks helped India gain the maximum land and also helped it contain the regional Rightist movements.

Those were different times when dominance of national Right would have been detrimental to India’s interests. But it is a completely different time and as of present Right has as much legitimacy in Indian politics as Center has.

The political Right has the best capacity to make India adjust to appropriate levels of all kinds of inflations; economic and non-economic - something no other party is capable of doing so effectively and so efficiently. It also has the best capacity among political parties to understand and respond to rising conflicting consciousness. Only objectionable argument against the BJP is its treatment of minorities and so something positive should be done about it.

The fact is that there is nothing wrong fundamentally in nationalistic ideologies, particularly in India, even though the preferred path should be Center-Right here: neither the full Centrist path nor the full Rightist path is the correct path for India. India is unique and so is its history and therefore, it does require nationalistic politics other than inclusive ones.

Mr. Ananthamurthy and Mr. Sen are free to disagree with Mr. Modi and to express their dislikes for him but they should not go to extreme. Both are adorable intellectuals all over India and for that reason they should be at some distance from taking explicit political side against an individual.

No regional arguments please. As far as Indian politics is concerned I am practically nonpartisan even though I agree with many among those who understand the utility of political Right. 

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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