New Delhi: Economist Amartya Sen says he does not believe a government led by Narendra Modi is "the best for India" but also adds that he "won't damn Modi at the outset."
The 80-year-old Nobel prize winner undertook an arduous journey to vote. A flight from New York to New Delhi, another flight to Kolkata and then a taxi ride to Bolpur, his hometown in West Bengal to cast his vote.
Now in Delhi, Dr Sen told NDTV that he was voting after 13 years. "Even though I am 80, I still teach but this...is a very important election.''
Dr Sen is a strong critic of the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, but when asked how he would view a government led by Mr Modi, he said, "It's not the best for India, (but) I don't know if we are completely doomed. I won't damn a Modi rule at the outset and there are degrees of damnation."
He said it was "silly" that some people have talked about leaving the country if a Modi government. "You don't migrate because of the wrong government, you vote it out,'' the world-renowned economist said, also indicating that he would have preferred a BJP led into the elections by someone other than Mr Modi.
"I have had good relations with other BJP leaders and there are lot of things of interest in the BJP, although the BJP will never be my party," he said.
But he also emphasised, "I am not pro-Congress...the Congress record is not very good."
Describing the Prime Minister as "my friend Manmohan Singh," Dr Sen said he "may have liked to do much more, but with Parliament hardly functioning, his role was limited."
He said he had not read the controversial book by Sanjaya Baru that alleges that the Prime Minister's role was diminished by Congress president Sonia Gandhi acting as a super-PM. "I haven't read the book and it may be but I'm not sure," he said.
Priyanka Gandhi, Dr Sen said, "is very witty and gives good speeches but I think the comparison between Rahul and her is odd as she's only campaigning in two constituencies while he is campaigning all over."
Much has been made of the feud between Amartya Sen and another renowned economist Jagdish Bhagwati. Dr Sen bluntly said, "He likes discussing me, I don't like discussing him." He also pointed out that unlike Professor Bhagwati who is an American citizen, he is an Indian who votes.
To reports that Professor Bhagwati may be part of the government if the BJP comes to power, Dr Sen would only say, "He should be able to give good advice to Modi."