2013, New Delhi, News, Telegraph Calcutta

Angry Graffiti: Why Amartya Sen Won’t Have Narendra Modi As His Prime Minister

The Argumentative Indian enters a debate he’d like Indians to engage with

New Delhi, July 22: Narendra Modi’s incipient bid for prime ministership has received stinging disapproval from public intellectual and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen. “I do not want Modi to be my Prime Minister,” Sen told journalist Sagarika Ghose in an interview that aired on CNN-IBN “As an Indian citizen I could say we Indians don’t want a situation where the minorities feel insecure and could legitimately thing that there was organised violence against them in 2002. That’s a terrible record. As an Indian citizen I do not want an Indian Prime Minister who has that kind of record.”

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Sen’s remarks come at a time when Modi’s anointment as the BJP-NDA’s prime ministerial nominee for 2014 is being given final shape on the political anvil. RSS bosses have signalled approval from their Nagpur shadows. Modi’s party boss, Rajnath Singh, is on a PR mission the United States, calling him the most popular leader across the land and lobbying to have travel barriers imposed on the Gujarat chief minister following the 2002 anti-Muslim mayhem abrogated.  His party spokespersons are in overdrive, pre-promoting his candidacy and protecting him from censure by rivals for flagrant and provocative references to India’s Muslims. He has likened his grief over the killing of thousands of Muslims under his watch in Gujarat to emotions he would feel if a kutte ka bachcha, or puppy, were to come under the wheel of his car. He also chose to disparage the Congress’ brand of secularism likening it to the burqa, the public attire of many Muslim women. Some of these statements have been made in the course of Modi’s revved up effort to define his vision of India to varied audiences. Continue reading “Angry Graffiti: Why Amartya Sen Won’t Have Narendra Modi As His Prime Minister”

2013, Patna, Reportage, Telegraph Calcutta

Nitish Kumar: Hour of ‘honourable option’

Patna, June 15: Three nights ago, N.K. Singh, Janata Dal (United) MP and brainstrust, was hosting a dinner for select eminences in Cambridge and couldn’t resist popping a home question to Amartya Sen: “What, Sir, do you think are the options before Nitish Kumar?”

The Nobel laureate, who also mentors Bihar’s Nalanda University, reflected a moment, then issued a laconic reply: “Well, Nitish Kumar has several options, but only one honourable one.”

The laureate-mentor’s message was relayed to Nitish by Singh this morning, not that Nitish was confused about what he must now do. The chief minister is set to effect the “honourable option” tomorrow following the formality of running the break through party president Sharad Yadav over dinner tonight.

Singh flew back already possessed of the knowledge he was headed to attend the funeral rites of arguably the most durable contemporary political alliance. For it was at the same dinner in Cambridge that Arun Jaitley, architect and patron of the Bihar coalition, bade him a cryptic farewell, only half in soiree jest. “Happy divorce,” he wished Singh. Hearing it come from Jaitley, who had managed many crises in the alliance, Singh was convinced little could save it. Continue reading “Nitish Kumar: Hour of ‘honourable option’”