‘Deaths of people in the 2002 riots have not touched Modi even today’

Even as critical remarks against Narendra Modi by Kannada writer U.R. Ananthamurthy triggered a barrage of angry responses by the BJP, the Jnanpeeth-awardee reiterated his position that Gujarat Chief Minister and the party's prime ministerial candidate was “unfit” to lead the country.

At a book launch function earlier in the week, Prof. Ananthamurthy said that he could not think of living in a country led by Mr. Modi. This led to angry responses from BJP leaders in Karnataka. BJP spokesperson Ayanur Manjunath had gone to the extent of comparing him to Bollywood actor Poonam Pandey who declared that she would strip if the Indian team won the 2011 World Cup.

Speaking to The Hindu on Thursday, Prof. Ananthamurthy said that there were no surprises in the BJP’s reaction. “It is as expected, given their insecurities,” he said, adding that it added to his fears that there would no room for freedom of expression if the party voted to rule the county. He described Mr. Modi as a “bully” who created fear and inspired cowardice.

He told The Hindu: “The deaths in the 2002 Gujarat carnage have not touched Narendra Modi even today... The incident left no wounds on his soul and there is no sense of remorse. I do not believe such a man should lead the country.”

In the meanwhile, several writers and intellectuals, including Baragur Ramachandrappa and K Marulasiddappa, have come out in support of Prof. Ananthamurthy.

Continuing its attack on Prof. Ananthamurthy for his remarks against Mr. Modi, the BJP on Thursday said his remarks showed that he would not respect the people’s mandate, despite being in a democratic set up.

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