Friday, July 19, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Kalam elected President
Tribune News Service

CPIM leader Somnath Chatterji besides Dr Abdul Kalam
CPIM leader Somnath Chatterji besides Dr Abdul Kalam  at the DRDO guest house in the Capital on Thursday. 
— photo Mukesh Aggarwal

New Delhi, July 18
Noted missile scientist A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was declared elected as the President today, defeating Left-backed rival Capt Lakshmi Sahgal by securing 89.58 per cent of the votes in the preferential system of elections.

Dr Kalam, 71, who belongs to a humble boatman family from Rameswaram, polled 4,152 votes with a value of 9,22,884 while Captain Sahgal garnered the support of 459 electors (value votes 1,07,366). 

Dr Kalam will be sworn in as the 12th President of India on July 25 at a ceremony in the Central Hall of Parliament.

Election officials count Presidential election votes
Election officials count Presidential election votes at Parliament House in New Delhi on Thursday. — PTI photo

At the end of counting, which lasted three hours and 15 minutes, Returning Officer R.C. Tripathi declared Dr Kalam as the duly elected President. Dr Kalam secured victory by the second highest margin in the presidential election, behind outgoing President K.R. Narayanan. The latter had secured more than 92 per cent of the votes polled in the 1997 presidential election.

The landslide victory of Dr Kalam was on expected lines since he was backed both by the ruling National Democratic Alliance and the main Opposition party, the Congress, which is in power in as many as 15 states.

Invalid votes touched an all-time high of 174, with 42 MPs wasting their franchise. One of the invalid votes carried a message for 81-year-old Left party candidate, saying that she should have contested the elections 20 years earlier.

Another voter, whose preference was declared invalid, wrote on the ballot paper that Dr Kalam would look much better if he cut his hair. Another invalid ballot paper had a note in Marathi, saying that either Dr Kalam should cut his hair or Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee grow his hair.

Sources said a record number of invalid votes were of hardcore BJP MPs owing allegiance to the RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal, who defied party directives to make their votes invalid because they were against voting for a candidate belonging to a minority community.

Among the states, Andhra Pradesh had the maximum number of invalid votes, followed by Punjab at 14 and Madhya Pradesh with 11

Official figures released indicated cross-voting among MPs. Captain Sahgal managed to secure 80 votes from among MPs though the strength of the parties officially supporting her is 63 in both Houses of Parliament.

Apart from the two Houses, the major support for Dr Kalam came from Uttar Pradesh (386) Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh (264 each) Tamil Nadu (217), Bihar (215), Karnataka (202) and Rajasthan (189).

From the Left bastions of West Bengal and Tripura, voters voted overwhelmingly in favour of Captain Sahgal. She secured 197 and 41 votes, respectively, from the states.

Of the 760 MPs, the missile man secured the support of 638, with a value of 4,51,704, leaving 80 to Captain Sahgal, carrying a vote value of 56,640. Each MP has a vote value of 708 but the MLAs’ vote value differs from state to state, depending on the population.

Captain Sahgal did not get a single vote in six states, including Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Sikkim, and the Union Territory of Pondicherry.

However, she secured the maximum votes from the Left strongholds of West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. In the 292-strong West Bengal Assembly, Captain Sahgal got 197, in Kerala 39 out of 152 and in Tripura, 41 out of 60.

It was a cakewalk for Dr Kalam almost in all the other states and union territories.

Immediately after the declaration of results, Dr Kalam’s opponent congratulated him on becoming the country’s 12th President.

“I congratulate Dr Abdul Kalam on his election to the post of President and convey my best wishes to him”, said Captain Sahgal, who left for Kerala today before the declaration of result, in a statement issued here.

Thanking her supporters and sponsors, the INA veteran said the presidential poll campaign had given her the opportunity to address a wide section of people “regarding the vital issues facing the country, especially the danger posed the communal forces in the wake of the Gujarat events”.


Scientists hail election

Mumbai, July 18
The scientific community here today hailed the election of noted missile scientist Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam as the 12th President of India and hoped that science and technology would flourish under his leadership.

“We are very happy. Dr Kalam has made the scientific community proud and his election to the highest office in the country is a recognition of the contribution of the scientific community of India,” Mr G.S. Rautela, Director of the Nehru Science Centre, said.

Nehru Planetarium senior scientist Bharat Adur said the scientific community would benefit from Dr Kalam’s election. “It is a positive signal”, Dr Adur said.

The mood at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Powai, was also jubilant. “Dr Kalam had been a frequent visitor to the IIT and has always drawn large crowds”, said Dr Aruna Thosar-Dixit, spokesperson for the IIT here.

She said Dr Kalam had addressed the IIT convocation in 1996 and had also been awarded an honorary doctorate of the premier technology institute.

“He is a great scientist and whenever he has been here, there has been a very, very warm response from the faculty as well as the budding scientists”, she said. UNI


A dreamer extraordinaire
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 18
President-Elect Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, whose name has become synonymous with the nation’s missile and nuclear power development, is a quintessential self-reliance guru and a dreamer extraordinaire with a vision to propel India as a technologically strong country and a missile superpower.

It has been a long journey for the 71-year-old man belonging to a boat-maker’s family to attain the country’s top most constitutional post.

Dr Kalam, who will succeed Mr K.R. Narayanan as the 11th President of the country, combines the endearing mystique of austerity and determined Gandhian simplicity.

The meteoric rise of Dr Kalam who once sold newspapers as a student in the 1930s, revolves around his grit and resolve, ambition, struggle and good fortune.

The true stature of Kalam, a bachelor with tousled hair and a mussed look, lies in the unusual blending of his scientific attainments with unalloyed patriotism and nobility as a human being.

Born on October 15, 1931 in the temple town of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu in the southern tip of the country in a boat-maker’s family, Dr Kalam is hailed as a dreamer, visionary and genius who yearns to give India the cutting edge and making it technologically resilient by harnessing the vast untapped human resources.

Dr Kalam, a known workaholic, reads the Bhagwad Gita, plays the Rudra veena and recites poetry of renowned Tamil poet Subramania Bharati, apart from his own verses. He also writes poems and is a voracious reader.

A vegetarian by choice, he leads a spartan life as enjoined by Islam, but has assiduously practised Brahmacharya extolled by Hinduism.

The boy from the Mosque street in Ramanathapuram had humble beginnings studying first in a small town school in the 30s and had his high school upbringing in the taluk headquarters. He graduated from St Joseph College in Trichy.

Going in for aeronautics engineering course at the newly established Madras Institute of Technology (MIT) was a turning point for Dr Kalam. The only stint abroad for the thoroughly home-bred scientist was a four-month-visit to NASA in the USA.

Dr Kalam joined the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in 1958 and five years later joined the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).


Thanks parents, friends, professors
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 18
Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who humbled Capt Lakshmi Sahgal to become the next President, thanked his friends, parents, teachers and three professors.

“I am indeed delighted to get elected as the next President. I thank all my friends, parents, teachers and three great professors — Prof Vikram Sarabhai, Prof Satish Dhawan and Prof Brahma Prakash,” Dr Kalam told newspersons shortly after Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan drove to his flat in Asiad Village here.

Dr Kalam, who has made a long journey from a tiny Tamil Nadu village to the country’s top constitutional post, said the country needed a “second vision” to transform into a prosperous, poverty-free, healthy and developed nation.

“My message to the country is that we need a vision, a second vision for the nation to get India transformed into a developed country in 20 years,” he said.

Asked about the criticism of his agenda by some Left parties, including their presidential nominee Captain Sahgal, Dr Kalam said: “I don’t have any rival. They are my friends, they are all nationalists, they all want India to develop.”

To a question on whether he would be a “neutral” President, he shot back, saying that “a President is a President. There is nothing like a neutral President.”

He also had a good word for his election agent and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan, terming the latter as a “good booster”.

Dr Kalam has already got the approval of those in charge of protocol to have a large presence of children at his swearing-in.

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