And Now It's U.R. Ananthamurthy V/s BJP
Jnanpith awardee and acclaimed Kannada writer Dr U.R. Ananthamurthy has said he will not live in a country where Modi is 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 today 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 had said at an event here 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.
Criticising Ananathamuthy's comments against Modi, former Karnataka Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council D V Sadananda Gowda said, "It shows how much respect Murthy, a Jnanpith awardee has towards his country...In a democracy it is left for people to decide, his words are against the sentiment of the people and Murthy should introspect on this."
"We respect Jnanpith awardees, but one who is bestowed with such prestigious award should have ability to protect the dignity and sanctity of the award given to him. Does Murthy have that ability?" he questioned.
Earlier, the BJP Karnataka (The 'Official Twitter Account of BJP Karnataka') even tweeted:
The BJP Karnataka twitter handle also posted links to stories showing that Mr Ananthamurthy is close to the Karnataka Chief Minister:
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.
Television channel CNN-IBN had yesterday quoted him as saying:
"I won't live in a country ruled by Narendra Modi. When I was young, I used to criticise Prime Minister Nehru. But, his supporters never attacked us. They always respected our views. Modi supporters are now behaving like Fascists. They are behaving like the Fascists in Germany during Hitler. I don't want to see a man like Modi in the chair, where once a man like Nehru sat and ruled. I am too old and unwell. If Modi becomes the PM, it will be a big shock to me. I won't live."
In a separate interview to NDTV, the noted author said that Narendra Modi would indeed offer good governance. "But remember what we said when Indira Gandhi imposed emergency? That the trains ran on time. The trains would run on time, under Mr Modi too," he said, adding, "But he [Modi] belongs to the RSS -- the Sangh parivar which is fascist in nature."
Talking about Rahul Gandhi, he said that he considered the Congress Vice President like a younger brother who could still improve for the better and change, but there was no hope for Mr Modi to change: he would always remain a fascist.
PTI story with inputs from other channels and Outlook web desk