| BJP state president Dr CP Thakur addresses a news conference in Patna on Sunday. Picture by Ashok Sinha |
Patna, July 1: Former President APJ Abdul Kalam seems to have become a fallen angel in the eyes of the BJP after the release of his book Turning Point, A Journey Through Challenges.
Kalam’s revelation that Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Prime Minister then, was not keen on his (Kalam’s) visit to Gujarat after the 2002 riots has hurt the party the most. “Kalam’s claim that Vajpayee was reluctant on his to visit Gujarat is wholly untrue,” the state BJP chief, C.P. Thakur, told reporters today.
The former health minister in Vajpayee’s cabinet said: “Vajpayeeji was very much concerned over the Gujarat riots. He went to that state. Why he should have been not keen on Kalam going there?”
Thakur said: “I had met Vajpayee three days after the riots. The Prime Minister then gave a green signal to my proposal to provide healthcare to the victims in the 46 relief camps in Gujarat.”
Thakur, a former head of the medicine of Patna Medical College and Hospital and a Padmashree award-winning doctor, said: “On Vajpayee’s instruction, I personally went to Gujarat with a team of doctors and experts from the Red Cross to provide medical relief to the victims.”
Kalam has not revealed why Vajpayee had “reservations” on his visit Gujarat. He has quoted the Prime Minister then in his book as saying: “Do you (Kalam) think going to Gujarat at this time is essential?”
On Vajpayee’s query, Kalam claimed to have said: “I consider it as an important duty so that I can be of some use to reduce the pain of people and accelerate the relief activities.”
Thakur was also pained over Kalam’s hint in his book that the government’s “reluctance” on his (Kalam’s) visit was driven by political consideration because the tour could have been critical to Gujarat chief minister.
Kalam’s Turning Point says: “One of the main reasons was political. However, I made up my mind that I will go and preparations were on in full swing at the Rashtrapati Bhavan for my first visit as the President.”
Thakur said: “Kalam should not have written such things in the book because they are not in accordance with the vow of official secrecy.”
When pointed out that the Congress had dismissed Vajpayee’s instruction to Modi to follow “raj dharma” as eyewash, Thakur said: “I do not want to comment on it. Vajpayeeji had used the raj dharma connotation in a different context and we do not want to comment on how the Congress interpreted it.”
Asked about Kalam’s claim that Sonia Gandhi could have been the Prime Minister if she had wished so, Thakur said: “Yes, she could have become. We don’t have objection on Sonia’s point.” Thakur was again quick to add that Kalam should not have revealed things related to his functioning as the President of India.