The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kalam speech creates code row

New Delhi, Oct. 3: Fourteen months in Rashtrapati Bhavan, and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has not courted controversy even with a bargepole. But, unknown to him, a storm of sorts is brewing in Bhopal and he is its eye.

Hoardings screaming that President Kalam had spoken up for one of the BJP’s pet demands — uniform civil code —have sprouted on the streets of poll-bound Bhopal, courtesy star sadhvi Uma Bharti.

Chief minister aspirant and the BJP’s state poll campaign leader, Bharti is believed to have swooped on a four-day-old media report alleging that the President supported the common code at an interactive session with children in Chandigarh on Monday.

Quoting the remark freely to add sting to its campaign, the BJP has been using it to throw chief minister Digvijay Singh’s barbs on soft Hindutva back in his face.

Rashtrapati Bhavan today expressed surprise that such reports had come out in a section of the press. Although four days too late, official sources said the media had “inaccurately” reported what the President said.

The sources said Kalam had been responding to a schoolgirl’s query on what he thought about the common code. All he had said was that in a country with a population of over a billion, “… the laws should be uniformly applied to all”.

As the President had used the word “uniform” and the question had been on the civil code, reporters had wrongly interpreted his remark to mean that he was for the code, the sources explained. The report was “not correct”, they said, adding they had been present at the Chandigarh interaction.

Rashtrapati Bhavan has not issued a formal clarification. The President is away in Hyderabad.

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