Bangalore: Veteran Kannada writer and Jnanpith award winner UR Ananthamurthy, known to be outspoken, has the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bristling for having said that he would not want to live in a country where Narendra Modi is Prime Minister.
Mr Modi was named the BJP's prime ministerial candidate last week.
Mr Ananthamurthy's comment at a literary function in Bangalore on Sunday has earned him sharp criticism and even a bewildering comparison with controversial model Poonam Pandey from angry Karnataka BJP leaders.
Ayanur Manjunath of the BJP accused Mr Ananthamurthy of seeking "publicity" of the kind, he said, Ms Pandey had by offering to strip for the Indian cricket team if it won the World Cup in 2011. He also suggested the author keep his visa ready.
An unfazed Mr Ananthamurty told NDTV at his Bangalore residence today, "I stand by my sentence with a modification: I don't want to live in a world where Modi is Prime Minister."
He said he had expected to be attacked: "There's a whole gang on the Internet everywhere. I knew that that would happen because it's a fascist mind and I could foresee that. Sangh Parivar is like that."
The writer also said he didn't see any leader he preferred, but added, "I like Rahul Gandhi because he's like a younger brother who's still growing. But Modi is not growing. Modi will be Modi. He will be very efficient, will govern really well....He will see that trains will run on time," Mr Ananthamurthy said, also comparing the BJP leader to former Congress Prime Ministers Jawaharlal nehru and Indira Gandhi.
Mr Modi, he alleged, "lacks an inner life".
He is unimpressed with Mr Modi's famous oratory or the fact that he has never been accused of corruption. "Nobody should be corrupt. It's become a virtue and he's getting his mileage from the poor performance of others," Mr Ananthamurthy says.