Kolkata: Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen asserted that it “would be a mistake” to think that the 2024 Lok Sabha election would be a one-horse race in favour of the BJP, and felt that the role of a number of regional parties would be “clearly important” for the upcoming general election.
The 90-year-old economist also said that though Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has the ability to be India’s next Prime Minister, it is yet to be established whether the West Bengal Chief Minister could be able to pull the forces of public dismay against the BJP.
“I think a number of regional parties are clearly important. I think the DMK is an important party, the Trinamool is certainly important and the Samajwadi Party has some standing but whether that could be extended I do not know.
“I think it would be a mistake to take the dismissive view that there is no other party that can take the place of BJP since it has established itself as a party with a vision that is inclined in the direction of Hindus over the rest of the country,” he told PTI in an exclusive interview.
Leaders of several parties including the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Janata Dal (United) have called for a new alliance including the Congress for the Lok Sabha polls in 2024. They have emphasised that a bipolar contest will ensure the BJP’s defeat.
“The BJP has substantially reduced the vision of India. It has narrowed the understanding of India as just Hindu India and as a Hindi-speaking India in such a strong way that it would be sad if there is no alternative to the BJP in India today.
“If the BJP looks strong and powerful, it has a good deal of weakness too. So, I think other political parties will be able to come to a debate if they really try. I do not know enough to be able to dismiss the anti-BJP parties together,” he said.
On whether Ms Banerjee could be the country’s next PM, Mr Sen said she has the ability.
“It’s not that she does not have the ability to do it. She clearly has the ability. On the other hand, it’s yet not established that Mamata can pull the forces of public dismay against the BJP in an integrated way to make it possible for her to have the leadership to put an end to the fractionalisation in India,” the economist said.
Regional parties led by Ms Banerjee’s Trinamool, K Chandrashekar Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), and Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had formed the Federal Front (FF) in the run-up to the 2019 general election.
In January of that year, talks were held among the leaders gathered in Kolkata at a grand meeting organised by the Trinamool chief.
Among those present were JD(S) leader and then Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, Arvind Kejriwal (AAP), MK Stalin (DMK) of Tamil Nadu, Akhilesh Yadav (SP), Sharad Pawar (NCP), Omar Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah of Jammu and Kashmir, and Gegong Apang of Arunachal Pradesh.
Mr Sen expressed doubts about the Congress’ ability to win the 2024 elections, which he believes has “weakened”. He, however, said that it is the only party to provide an all-India vision.
“The Congress seems to have weakened a lot and I do not know how much somebody can rely on Congress. On the other hand, Congress certainly provides an all-India vision which no other party can take over. Then again, there are divisions within the Congress,” he said.