Author Chetan Bhagat, heavily trolled for poking fun at authors and historians who have criticised the government, said on Friday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would not have faced flak if he had been educated at an elite institution.
“Had Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and other leaders been to Doon School and had a foreign accent, then these privileged class people would not have said anything against them,” he said at a function ahead of next month’s Indore Literature Festival.
Doon School is a boys-only boarding school at Dehradun in Uttarakhand whose alumni have gone on to successful careers in fields as diverse as politics and acting.
Bhagat also sought to trivialise the move by eminent figures in the artistic and scientific communities to return their government awards to protest against the growing intolerance in the country.
“Everybody returning awards in our country is being covered by the foreign media as saying that Indians are intolerant, stupid and keep fighting among themselves,” he said.
The 41-year-old author, best known for novels such as “Five Point Someone” and “Two States”, said such awards are given by the government, but by a jury.
“Awards are recognition of your work and should be respected. Also, I do not think that India does not have freedom of speech,” he added.
Pitching the protest as a class issue he said, “People living in big cities enjoyed a privileged position until 30 years ago. But for the current generation, passion, hard work and talent matter and the privileged classes are not able to come to terms with this change.”
Bhagat, who is active on social media, further said that “even if these people return 500 awards, my five tweets are enough for them”.
Answering a question from the audience, he said he would not join any political party as he did not want to lose his freedom of speech.
(With inputs from agency)