Excerpts from the blog by the BJP leader
Last week, the media carried some select news items based on a book of memoirs titled ‘Turning Points’, written by former Rashtrapati Dr. Kalam. I was surprised to find reports supposed to be based on the book about Gujarat in which Vajpayeeji was being found fault with for trying to protect the Narendra Modi Government. Dr. Kalam’s book has not been released as yet. But I have been able to procure Chapter Nine of this book captioned “My Visit to Gujarat”. Dr. Kalam says that his visit to Gujarat in August 2002 was his “first major task” after taking over as President. He adds:
“As no president had ever visited an area under such circumstances, many questioned the necessity of my visit to the state at this juncture. At the ministry and bureaucratic level, it was suggested that I should not venture into Gujarat at that point of time. One of the main reasons was political. However, I made up my mind that I would go and Rashtrapati Bhavan was in full swing to make this my first visit as President. Vajpayee asked me only one question, ‘Do you consider going to Gujarat at this time essential ?’ I told the PM, ‘I consider it an important duty so that I can be of some use to remove the pain, and also accelerate the relief activities, and bring about a unity of minds, which is my mission, as I stressed in my address during the swearing-in-ceremony.”
What Dr. Kalam goes on to add after this is even more significant. He writes:
“Many apprehensions were expressed, among them that my visit might be boycotted by the chief minister, that I would receive a cold reception and that there would be agitations from many sides. But, to my great surprise when I landed at Gandhinagar, not only the chief minister, but his whole cabinet colleagues and a large number of legislative members and administrators including the public were present at the airport. I visited twelve areas – three relief camps and nine riot-hit locations where losses were high. Narendra Modi, the chief minister, was with me throughout the visit. In one way, this helped me, wherever I went, the type of petitions and complaints and as he was with me I was able to suggest to him that actions be taken as quickly as possible.”
I have often felt that in India’s political history no political leader has been as systematically and viciously maligned as Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Bhai Modi. Do not these reports also reveal a conscious effort at vilification: the Prime Minister’s casual query “Do you consider going to Gujarat at this time essential” as the P.M. wanting to stop the President from going to Gujarat? Dr. Kalam has also referred to apprehensions he had heard that his visit may be boycotted. Dr. Kalam’s actual experience was totally different. Modi and his government enthusiastically cooperated with Dr. Kalam. Yet no newsman thought it worthwhile to report these complimentary observations of his !