June 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India
Abdul Kalam is NDA choice
New Delhi, June 10
Professor Kalam, who has been at the forefront of the country’s scientific developments, including the missile development programme, emerged as the NDA’s choice after it became virtually impossible to press ahead for Maharashtra Governor P.C. Alexander for the country’s highest post.
Mr Alexander was not only being opposed by the Opposition, including the Congress and the Left parties, but the Maharashtra Governor, who was the choice of the Mumbai club of the BJP-Shiv Sena combine, failed to gain favour with some of the allies like the Telugu Desam.
Professor Kalam’s name was cleared at the NDA meeting held at the Prime Minister’s residence which was attended by Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh Chief Ministers N. Chandrababu Naidu and Mayawati, respectively.
The candidature of the eminent scientist, who was also the scientific adviser to the Government of India, found favour with the Congress also with party spokesman Jaipal Reddy terming it as a “positive achievement”.
AICC sources said the Congress was likely to back Professor Kalam as he was non-controversial and belonged to a minority community. Professor Kalam’s candidature would be supported by the Samajwadi Party and it would be difficult for the Congress to pull off a victory in case of a contest. Though Congress leaders had been insisting that if President K.R. Narayanan agreed to a second term, he would be their candidate, they are likely to support Professor Kalam now.
The noted scientist’s name became a strong possibility when Mr Naidu tonight supported the candidature of Professor Kalam saying that he was the “right and appropriate” choice.
Professor Kalam’s “stature and his contribution to the country’s self-reliance in science and technology and other fields make him the best candidate around which a consensus can be built,” he said.
Decorated with the country’s highest civilian award Bharat Ratna, Professor Kalam’s name was proposed by the Prime Minister to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi when the two met in the evening today.
During the 15-minute meeting, Mr Vajpayee said the government had made up its mind to field Professor Kalam for the country’s top post, senior Congress leader Manmohan Singh, who was also present, told reporters. The Prime Minister also met Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and suggested to him that Professor Kalam was the government’s choice. Later Mr Vajpayee spoke to CPM and CPI General Secretaries H K Surjeet and A.B. Bardhan, respectively, on the telephone.
Professor Kalam’s case was further strengthened with the People’s Front deciding to meet here tomorrow to discuss and decide its stand on the presidential elections in the light of the NDA’s move to nominate him, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said.
The BJP also welcomed Professor Kalam’s name as the next President saying that the party “considers him to be the most eligible and appropriate candidate”.
“It is the most appropriate decision. Any nation would be proud to have such a President,” party National Secretary and former Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
Mr Naqvi said it would be “very unfortunate” if the Congress and other Opposition parties opposed the candidature of “such a non-political and non-controversial” person.
Even the Sangh Parivar and the Shiv Sena welcomed Mr Vajpayee’s decision to nominate Professor Kalam for the post of President describing the noted scientist as a “diehard nationalist who has earned a special place in the hearts of the people of India.”
“We would be very happy if Professor Kalam is elected President of India unanimously. He has contributed a lot to science and technology and people in general have great respect and reverence for him,” RSS co-spokesman Ram Madhav said.
VHP international general secretary Praveenbhai Togadia said, “The choice of Professor Kalam shows that this government does not discriminate on communal lines if the person concerned is a diehard nationalist.” “We hope that Professor Kalam’s elevation to the highest office would take the country forward in the field of science and technology as also put an end to the Hindu-Muslim problem,” Togadia said.
In a statement, senior Delhi Shiv Sena leader Abhimanyu Gulati welcomed the choice of Professor Kalam for the top post saying that “we have always supported and encouraged nationalist Muslims. The government’s choice is a slap on the face of the pseudo-secularists who allege that we discriminate on communal lines.”
Earlier, Mr Yechury told newspersons that it was the display of the Opposition unity that forced the ruling NDA to choose a consensus candidate for the top post.
After the BJP’s efforts to unilaterally impose a candidate failed, it made a hasty retreat and chose a candidate acceptable to all, he said. Further pressed Professor Dr Kalam’s candidature, Mr Yechury said no one would oppose him as he was a noted scientist and intellectual.
Asked about President K.R. Narayanan’s candidature proposed by the Front, Mr Yechury said it was because of the fact that the Prime Minister’s Office tried to impose the NDA’s choice without caring for a consensus and decided to field Maharashtra Governor P.C. Alexander.
Earlier, the Prime Minister replied in the affirmative when the Congress President enquired whether Professor Kalam’s name for the post was final as the government had earlier proposed the candidatures of Vice-President Krishan Kant and Maharashtra Governor P.C. Alexander, he said.
Mrs Gandhi told Mr Vajpayee that “we will let the government know of our views after consulting senior party leaders.”
Dr Manmohan Singh said Mrs Gandhi told Mr Vajpayee that she would hold consultations with her senior colleagues and others on the issue. Asked about the Congress choice for the top post, Dr Manmohan Singh, said, “We have so far said President K.R. Narayanan is our preferred candidate, but now we have been given a new name and we have to reflect on that.”
Notification on presidential poll today New Delhi, June 10 According to the commission the last date for making nominations will be June 25 and the scrutiny of nominations will be done the next day. The last date for the withdrawal of candidatures is June 28 and the date of counting, if required is July 18. The term of the incumbent President, Mr K.R. Narayanan, ends on July 24. As per the provisions of the Constitution, an election to fill the vacancy caused by the expiration of the term of office of the outgoing President shall need to be completed before the expiration.
New Delhi, June 10
According to the commission the last date for making nominations will be June 25 and the scrutiny of nominations will be done the next day.
The last date for the withdrawal of candidatures is June 28 and the date of counting, if required is July 18.
The term of the incumbent President, Mr K.R. Narayanan, ends on July 24.
As per the provisions of the Constitution, an election to fill the vacancy caused by the expiration of the term of office of the outgoing President shall need to be completed before the expiration.
Cong seeks time to decide on Kalam
New Delhi, June 10
During the 15-minute meeting at his residence, Mr Vajpayee said the government had made up its mind to field Mr Kalam for the country’s top post. Ms Gandhi told Mr Vajpayee that she would hold consultations with her party leaders on the issue.
Senior Congress leader Manmohan Singh, who was also present at the meeting, said that the Prime Minister replied in the affirmative when the Congress president enquired whether Mr Kalam’s name for the post was final as the government had earlier proposed the candidatures of Vice-President Krishan Kant and Maharashtra Governor P.C. Alexander.
Ms Gandhi told Mr Vajpayee that he had given a new name and “We will let the government know our views after consulting senior party leaders.”
Asked about the choice of the Congress for the top post, Mr Manmohan Singh said, “We have so far said President K.R. Narayanan is our preferred candidate but now we have been given a new name and we have to reflect on that.”
To a question whether the Congress would “dump” Mr Narayanan, he said “there is no question of dumping him.”
Besides Ms Gandhi and Mr Manmohan Singh, Home Minister L.K. Advani was also present at the meeting.
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