2012 presidential election: When Mamata almost persuaded Kalam to contest (Book Review) (July 27 is A.P.J. Kalam’s 1st death anniversary)

Title: What Can I Give?; Author: Srijan Pal Singh; Publisher: Penguin Random House; Pages: 266; Price: Rs 250

As India commemorted on July 27 the first death anniversary of President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, a new book claims that after he had completed his term in 2007 he was almost persuaded by West Bengal Chief Minister to contest in 2012, when there was considerable churning in politcal circles as to who would succeed Pratibha Patil.

Kalam, whose name was put forward by an opposition grouping that included Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, was insistent that he could only contest if there was unanimity on his candidature. The, says the book, written by a close aide of Kalam, Banerjee made a telephone call.

“After the conversation, Dr. Kalam sat by the phone, visibly moved. For once, his confidence in his own decision had been shaken. Her emotional appeals were indeed a major factor in Dr. Kalam still considering the race,” Srijan says in the book.

The book also says that Banerjee expressed her willingness to support Kalam’s even if it meant risking her political career.

” The nation needs you and I am willing to put my carrer at stake to do something so great for India. Please help us and support us,” the author quotes Banerjee as telling Kalam.

In the end, of course, Kalam stuck to his decision and opted out.

The book also states that Kalam was very tense about the frequent parliamentary disruptions. He felt that it time was lost, this should be made up by working extra hours on another day.

The book also touches on various aspects of Kalam’s personality, like for instance, he was totally unfazed when faced with a delayed flight.

“You funny fellow, you want to make the clouds go away,” Singh quotes Kalam as telling him, adding the former president had a penchant for using words like “friend” and “fellow” when referring to people.

Kalam also had an abiding faith in the youth, the book says.

“He believed in the power of youth, he always used to say that youth can shape the world, when selfishness and the ‘what can I take’ attitude is replaced by ‘what can I give’ it can make a huge change”, the book says.

At the bottom line, that’s “What Can I Give” all about.

(Shilpee Pandey can be contacted at shilpee412pandey@gmail.com)



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