Facing strong criticism from the BJP over his comments on Narendra Modi's potential prime ministerial ambitions, Nobel laureate for economics Amartya Sen said that he was willing to return the Bharat Ratna awarded by India if the then Prime Minsiter Atal Bihari Vajpayee asked him to.
BJP MP Chandan Mitra had criticised Sen for his comments and said that the economist should return the Bharat Ratna that had been conferred on him by the Indian government in 1999. The award was conferred on him by the BJP-led NDA government.
However, in an interview with Times Now, the economist said he was willing to give up the award.
"Mr Chandan Mitra may not know that the Bharat Ratna was given to me by the BJP-led government and was handed to me by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. If Mr Vajpayee wants me to return it, I will certainly return it," he said.
He said it was unfortunate that such a demand had come forth and termed it as a "personal" view of Mitra.
"To get into a political debate and somebody takes a view which seems to me is rather unfair...to all the people as well... I think it is unfortunate... It is so unproductive actually," Sen said.
He added that during the BJP-led NDA government, he has had a lot of discussion with leaders like L K Advani, Yashwant Sinha, Jaswant Singh and Arun Jaitley.
The economist has already received backing from the current government with Minister of State for Human Resources and Development Shashi Tharoor saying there was no question of taking the award back.
“There is no question of taking back the Bharat Ratna from him,” the minister was quoted as saying in an ANI interview.
With PTI inputs