As the prospect of a “contest” for the President looms between the UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee and the former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta writes of the latter in his weekly column:
“I wrote two National Interest articles more critical of Abdul Kalam than any you have seen anywhere…. The second was published when he had been named candidate for president. That Saturday morning I got a call from Brajesh Mishra, then the national security advisor (NSA).
“Arrey bhai kya likhte rehte hain aap, Kalam sahib pareshan hain,” he said and asked if I’d go and have coffee with Kalam on Monday at 11 am in his Vigyan Bhavan office.
“I walked in dutifully, a little bit apprehensive, rehearsing my usual defence. Kalam greeted me most warmly. Inquired after my wife’s health. They were both regular evening walkers in South Delhi’s Siri Fort Sports Complex.
“Then he gave me coffee and asked if I had read his India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium. He gave me a copy and fondly signed it. I was still waiting to hear his complaints. But he instead asked if I would be inclined to know more about his vision, even participate in his project.
“I need brilliant, patriotic minds like you,” he said.
“I made some embarrassed thanks-you-are-so-kind-but-how-can-I type of noises. He refilled my coffee and said more nice things about me, my writing and my views. Then he topped it with: “Shekharji, I have never found anything on which I disagree with you.”
Now this is not the script I had come rehearsed for. But I was now figuring the man had a politician’s tact, thick skin and magnanimity. He would make a pretty solid politician, I said to myself. I was never wrong on that one.”
Read the full article: National Interest
Photograph: Karnataka Photo News
Also read: What’s so sacrosanct about Abdul Kalam?