Non-Communal Forces Must Ally, Democracy In Danger: Amartya Sen

Amartya Sen said democracy was under threat in the country but it can only be rectified by the people.

Updated26 Aug 2018, 08:07 PM IST
3 min read

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said all non-communal forces should come together for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the Left should not hesitate in joining them as "democracy is in danger".

We must express our opposition to autocracy, we must fight against their autocratic trends, we must criticise the issues where we need to oppose the non-communal right wing forces, but we must not take back our hands when it comes to fighting communalism which is the biggest threat.
Amartya Sen

Sharply criticising the BJP government at the Centre, Sen said a party having got "31 percent votes and ill motives in politics" came to power in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

‘Party With Ill Motives Came to Power In 2014’

What happened in 2014 polls? A party having got 55 percent seats but actually having secured 31 percent of the total votes, came to power... A party with ill motives.
Amartya Sen in Sisir Manch Auditorium

The Nobel laureate said during his visit to Kolkata this time, he has heard whispers in certain quarters that to stop the autocratic trends in the state, BJP can be the viable medium and not the weak CPI(M).

“This is a strange logic. To stop autocracy, we will be sowing the seed of communalism. This seed can be weeded after a lot of time, effort and battle in future,” he said, adding every political question should not be interpreted through leftist and rightist prisms.

‘Democracy In Danger’

Sen said democracy was under threat in the country but it can only be rectified by the people.

"I think democracy is in danger but we can do rectification. If we say democracy is under threat, we can be beaten up by some people. But still we, the people, can do the rectification. It is not like a sinking boat which we all should abandon," he said.

Sen referred to Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to draw parallels with the situation in the country, but did not specifically refer to any particular incident.

“Some students had been taken to custody in JNU on charge of sedition in the past, a charge which had not been proved in any case. They were beaten up in custody which was against any law. It is not fathomable how they were charged under sedition,” the eminent economist said.

"We had all seen how an illegal act was committed and there was no fair justice. Till now, there was no proof of sedition charge. This time it was faced by students. but this can be faced by any citizen of this country," he said.

On the National Register of Citizens (NRC) issue, he said the Trinamool Congress had led the protests much before the Left parties.

"The TMC went there to protest before the left. Such a thing won't make the left proud. If you take pride for being Left make your voice heard on issues."

To a question on the efficacy of multi-party system in the country, Sen said, "I found no example which said democracy won't function without multi-party system. In one-party system we had seen example of autocratic rules over the years."

BJP, TMC Lock Horns over Sen’s Comments

The BJP on Sunday, 26 August came down heavily on Amartya Sen, likening him to people who have always misled the society.

"Intellectuals like Sen, who had always professed Left ideology, are losing touch with reality. Sen had said CPI(M) is getting invisible. Nothing can be truer than this, nothing can be truer than the fact that people like Sen, a Marxist, have little relevance in the present times," West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh told reporters on the sidelines of a party programme.

On Sen’s call for defeating BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP leader said people like him have always taken the society on the wrong path.

"He had always given wrong direction to the society, it is no surprise he is again doing the same thing," Ghosh said.

Sharply reacting to Ghosh’s diatribe against Sen, Trinamool Congress Secretary General Partha Chatterjee said, “One has to be a reader of books to acquire the right to speak on Amartya Sen.”

Chatterjee said, "Those people, who wield lathis at processions, should refrain from making comments on a person of Sen's stature as they can't appreciate the words spoken by an erudite person like him."

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Published: 26 Aug 2018, 09:29 AM IST
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