New Delhi: "I do not regret what I said...By getting Bharat Ratna I do not lose my right to speak," Amartya Sen said on Thursday as Bharatiya Janata Party MP Chandan Mitra demanded that the Nobel laureate should be stripped of his Bharat Ratna for making a statement against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
"Amartya Sen says he doesn't want Modi to be India's PM. Is Sen even a voter in India? Next NDA government must strip him of Bharat Ratna," the BJP MP said earlier in the day.
Sen sparked a controversy on Monday when, in an interview with CNN-IBN Deputy Editor Sagarika Ghose, he said, "As an Indian citizen I don't want Modi as my PM, he has not done enough to make minorities feel safe."
Insisting that he does not regret the statement, the Nobel laureate on Thursday said, "It was my duty to stand up for minority community". Sen said it would be very sad if Bharat Ratna would be taken away from him but more than 'Ratna', it is Bharat for which he is more worried.
"When Bharat Ratna was given to me, Modi was not in the scene, it was not given by him," he said while adding that it was "not appropriate to compare Atal Bihari Vajpayee with Modi".
Sen said he was "no less Indian" just because he married two foreigners. "My first wife was an Indian," he said.
When asked about his statement where he reportedly said he would return Bharat Ratna if Vajapyee would ask him to return do so, Sen said his comment was misread. "What I said was that Bharat Ratna was given by to me by Vajpayee and therefore the question should come from him," he said.