The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bharat darshan before world tour for Kalam

New Delhi, May 23: A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has in many ways been unconventional during his first few months in Rashtrapati Bhavan, and could soon have another first to his credit.

If an unpublicised plan he has charted remains on course, the President will have the distinction of visiting all states in the country in his first year in office. He is, apparently, not keen to undertake his first state visit abroad without doing a round of the states. He completes one year on August 25.

In the first nine months, Kalam has already visited 20 states and Union territories, some more than once. Preparations are in full swing for his month-end visit to Bihar for two railway functions.

The Bihar visit means a President will be visiting that state after more than a decade. Kalam will also be the first President after Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy to use the railway’s special presidential saloon to travel between Harnaut and Patna. Reddy had travelled on it 25 years ago from Delhi to Dehra Dun.

Kalam is believed to be very keen to visit Jammu and Kashmir. Rashtrapati Bhavan sources said he intends to travel to all three regions of the state — Jammu, Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. Two programmes have already been lined up for the proposed visit: a convocation in Jammu University and distribution of police colours to Jammu and Kashmir police personnel in Srinagar.

The sources hope all logistical arrangements for the Jammu and Kashmir visit will fall in place before Kalam completes his first year.

Before that, he might travel to Uttar Pradesh. Plans for a visit are being considered and Kalam might undertake it soon after his Bihar trip. He is also equally keen to go to Mizoram, the only north-eastern state he has not visited.

Though Kalam has been travelling to states and Union Territories across the country, he has not been to his home town in southern Tamil Nadu since becoming President. But he has been to his home state twice.

Sources virtually ruled out a presidential visit abroad between now and August 25. “Some tentative proposals are, however, there for his first state visit,” they said, adding that many invitations were pending.

The sources said that on a couple of occasions, there were proposals for Kalam to travel abroad but the President did not show much enthusiasm because of his preoccupation with visits within the country.

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