Vajpayee was not keen on my 2002 official visit to Gujarat: Kalam
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In the aftermath of the 2002 riots in Gujarat, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee appeared to have not been keen on President APJ Abdul Kalam's official visit to the state, according Kalam's new book Turning Points.
In his soon-to-be-released book, Kalam said that there were also suggestions at the ministry and bureaucratic level against his trip to Gujarat after the post-Godhra riots in which 1,200 people were killed, most of whom were Muslims.
"One of the main reasons was political. However, I made up my mind that I would go. My mission was not to look at what had happened, not to look at what was happening, but to focus on what should be done." wrote Kalam on his decision to visit the state.
"The Prime Minister asked me only one question. 'Do you consider going to Gujarat at this time, essential?' I told the PM, 'I consider it an important duty so that I can be of some use to remove the pain, accelerate the relief activities and bring about a unity of minds."
One of the main apprehensions expressed against his visit according to Kalam, was that it might be boycotted by Chief Minister Narendra Modi and that he would receive a cold reception and witness protests from many sides. "But, to my great surprise when I landed at Gandhinagar, not only the Chief Minister, but his entire cabinet and a large number of legislators, officials and members of the public were present at the airport." he recollects.
"I visited three relief camps and nine riot-hit locations. Narendra Modi was with me throughout the visit. In a way this helped me. Since wherever I went, I received petitions and complaints and since he was with me I was able to suggest to him that action be taken as quickly as possible."
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