After taking oath as PM in May 2014, Modi immediately called up Kalam to take his blessings.
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared a warm relationship with former President of India, the Late Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, with the former President referring to Modi as a “great friend from Gujarat” and the “greatest Chief Minister.”
After taking oath of Prime Minister in May 2014, Modi immediately called up Kalam to take his blessings, something which made Kalam very happy. They would regularly interact with Kalam, sharing his views on how to improve governance in India. After Kalam passed away in 2015, the PM set a deadline of nine months to complete the construction of a memorial for the Bharat Ratna at Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, the home town on Kalam.
Till the time the building of the memorial was completed by the Defence Research and Development Organization within the deadline set by the PM, he would take monthly updates from officials to ensure it was completed on time. A.P.J.M.J. Sheik Saleem, the grand nephew of Kalam, took to Twitter to share these anecdotes about the PM and the former President on Saturday, which is the birthday of Kalam. Saleem also recalled that when Kalam passed away, the family members got a call from the PM and PMO, suggesting that his last rites be done in New Delhi; however, after Kalam’s elder brother requested the PM that it should be done in his home town, the PM immediately agreed and ensured all arrangements at the central and state level was done smoothly. The PM then flew to Rameshwaram to pay his homage to the departed soul on 29 July 2015.
Kalam, who was arguably the most popular President the country has ever seen, was denied a much deserved second term despite popular demand by the then ruling dispensation as he refused to act as a stamp paper president, something which has also been vividly described in a recent book, “Kalam, the untold story” (Bloomsbury) written by R.K. Prasad, his private secretary for 22 years.