Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar strongly condemned the BJP for targeting Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Friday, over the latter’s remark that he did not want Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as India’s prime minister.
“To threaten Sen and to ask him to give up the Bharat Ratna (awarded during the Vajpayee regime – 1998-2004) is sheer authoritarianism”, Kumar told reporters in the Bihar legislature complex.
“Everybody enjoys the freedom of speech in democratic India. To deny somebody the right to speak his mind goes against the basic spirit of the Indian constitution”, he added.
Kumar’s attack on the BJP came a day after it launched its Lok Sabha poll campaign in the Bihar CM’s native Nalanda district, by projecting NaMo as India’s next PM.
The BJP was a partner in Kumar’s coalition government till the JD(U) severed its ties with its saffron ally on June 16 over Modi’s elevation in the BJP to a slot that put him in line as its likely candidate for the PM’s post.
Nobel laureate Sen heads the governing board of the upcoming Nalanda university in south-central Bihar, a pet project of Kumar, which has since been taken over for execution by the centre, through an act of Parliament.
“The Bihar chief minister enjoys warm relations with Sen, who has been closely associated with the Nalanda project since its inception. He had earlier headed the university’s mentor group”, recalled a senior JD(U) leader.