New Delhi, July 26: Days after his controversial remark on Narendra Modi, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen claimed that he would return his Bharat Ratna if the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee asks him to do so. However, Sen claimed that he did not regret his comment on the Gujarat Chief Minister as he was not ready to "surrender his right to speak his mind".
Speaking to media, Sen was quoted as saying, "Do I regret my views on Modi. No. By getting Bharat Ratna, I do not lose my right to speak my views as an individual."
"It is my right to speak up. I thought it was my duty to stand and speak up for the majority. I got Bharat Ratna but...," Sen added while responding to a question regarding BJP MP Chandan Mitra's recent remark on him.
Mitra, a Rajya Sabha MP, recently turned up to micro-blogging site Twitter and tweeted, "Bharat Ratna is a jewel of the whole country. No BR should speak for or against any party or leader. Sen should join Congress political team."
Mitra's tweet surfaced following Sen's controversial remark on Modi. Sen, during an interview with CNN-IBN, said, "As an Indian citizen I don't want Modi as my PM, he has not done enough to make minorities feel safe. I think I would like a more secular person to be prime minister. I would not like a prime minister who generates concern and fear among minorities. That is the primary reason."
"I am in favour of someone who looks at social administration and not just business administration seriously. That doesn't mean that I don't see what he has done and why people admire him," added Sen while continuing his statement in the interview.
Sen invited nation-wide criticism following his statement on the Gujarat CM. However, BJP distant itself from Mitra's statement on Sen saying, "Bharat Ratna debate was unfortunate." Meanwhile, Mitra regretted his statement saying, ""I think I may have exaggerated. I do regret the part about taking away of Bharat Ratna from Dr Sen, I oversaid it."
79-year-old Sen, an Economist, received Nobel Memorial Prize in 1998 in Economic Sciences for his work in welfare economics. He was conferred Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India, during NDA's tenure in the Centre in 1999.