Jnanpith awardee and acclaimed Kannada writer Dr UR Ananthamurthy has said he will not live in a country with Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister, triggering angry reactions from BJP which said he was free to leave India.
As a controversy broke out over his strident anti-Modi remark, Ananthamurthy on Thursday stood his ground and said the Gujarat chief minister would create fear among people if he becomes Prime Minister.
"I would not want to live in a country where Modi is the Prime Minister," he said at an event in Bangalore recently.
Against the backdrop of vitriolic attacks against him from the BJP and its sympathisers for his remarks, Ananthamurthy said, "He (Modi) will create fear and if a fearsome man is sitting there, people will just bow down to him because a bully creates cowards."
The country needs to build a citizenry who are not afraid and a governance where people do not follow a leader slavishly, he told reporters.
Furious at Ananthamurthy's remarks, BJP and supporters of the BJP's prime ministerial candidate dubbed him "parasite like" alleging he swayed according to political climate, having supported Congress and JDS in the past and "currying" favours with the government of the day.
BJP MP Ananthkumar Hegde and several local party leaders said he was free to leave the country.
Several writers, including Baragur Ramachandrappa and K Marulasiddappa, have come out in support of Ananthamurthy while some others such as noted scholar Dr Chidananda Murthy flayed him.
Ananthamurthy said there was dignity attached to Prime Minister's post when Pandit Nehru and Narasimha Rao assumed the charge, but this will wane away if Modi becomes PM.
"We had people like Nehru who could write a book in jail --Discovery of India, a great book even today. Rao was a great scholar too. There was some dignity for the Prime Minister's post, but that dignity will go (if Modi becomes PM), he said.
On BJP leaders' attacks on him, Ananthamurthy said he had been critical of Indira Gandhi and Nehru in the past but was never abused as much as the saffron party did. "If I say something and I am abused so much by a gang of people, imagine when they are in power what will happen," he said.
Ananthamurthy said the BJP has always criticised him because he did not buy the RSS Hindu philosophy. "They are a fascist party and don't understand Hinduism. It is a great religion," he said.
On UPA government, he said it is not anti-people but was corrupt and should be punished. "But the way out is not choosing a man like Modi," he said.