Notwithstanding the regret expressed by BJP MP Chandan Mitra for his remarks against Amartya Sen, Congress on Friday slammed the opposition party, saying it reflects “narrow bigotry” and “fascist” mindset which is intolerant towards freedom of speech.

Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury said the comments by Mr. Mitra that Dr. Sen should be asked to return his Bharat Ratna award were condemnable as the Nobel laureate has the right to express his views as a citizen of India.

“Asking for his Bharat Ratna to be returned is condemnable... How shameful it is that the discourse has plunged to such low levels where dignity, respect and more importantly, self-respect is not applied,” she said at a press conference in New Delhi.

Terming Mr. Mitra’s comment as “divisive”, “insular”, “prejudiced” and “fascist” thinking, she said “narrow bigotry infests BJP” and it should be collectively condemned.

She was commenting on Mr. Mitra’s remarks that Dr. Sen should be stripped off his Bharat Ratna award irrespective of the fact that the BJP MP expressed regret hours earlier.

“Dr. Sen spoke and will continue to speak as a citizen of India... He is entitled to speak as an individual and a citizen of India. People who don’t believe in democratic practices and freedom of speech come up with conditionalities,” Ms. Chowdhury said, saying it reflects intolerance of BJP.

In this context, she likened the “conditionalities” to warranty given for purchase of goods like ceiling fans.

“It is like saying that Bharat Ratna comes with a warranty of 10 years and if you don’t comply with the party line, it will be taken back,” she said.

“Is this what Bharat Ratna has been reduced to? Is this the message you (BJP) want to send to the youth? It is a matter of shame that BJP prescribes and subscribes to such thinking,” she said.

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