Rameswaram, July 19: The decision to install a 7-feet-long bronze statue of APJ Abdul Kalam at Pei Karumbu in Rameswaram seems to have gone against the wishes of former President. While House of Kalam chose not to react openly, some family members, friends and close aides of Kalam felt that the move would send wrong signals to his followers.
As reported by OneIndia earlier, the foundation stone for Kalam Memorial will be laid on July 27, the first death anniversary of former President, at Pei Karumbu. A host of central and state ministers are expected to land at this temple town to kick-start the memorial work, delayed by nearly a year now.
"The family members are not happy. They are upset, but have preferred to be silent. They feel let down by the sad state of affairs of the kabar (burial site). The fencing by DRDO around the memorial has come as relief to thatha (APJM Marakaiyar, Kalam's 100-year-old elder brother)," says a family friend.
According to him, the family feels left out with government representatives not officially involving them on any of the memorial activities.
"Everyone wants the family for photographs only. In the last one year, the family had to deal with many unforeseen events in their efforts to keep Kalam's name intact. His name has been misused by many in the last one year, including his digital assets. The family is not excited about a bronze statue, but they are happy for the memorial work which is finally set to begin," says the man who is part of the Kalam Arcade.
On Tuesday, the officials were seen overseeing the statue installation work with the concrete base and pillars already up. DRDO plans to have a replica of the statue erected at the Missile Complex in Hyderabad last year.
Ex-Prez felt statue money should be used for aiding the poor
According to a close aide of Kalam, the former President hated the statue culture all through his life.
"He was opposed to unveiling any statues. By denying such requests, he invited the displeasure of many," he says. He recalled an incident to explain Kalam's displeasure on spending money on non-productive purposes.
Sardar Patel statue: Abdul Kalam rejected Modi's request
According to another aide, Narendra Modi as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, was keen to have Kalam for the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Sardar Patel's statue on October 31, 2013.
Kalam is said to have regretted Modi's written request. Modi also met him (Kalam) at a function in Ahmedabad hoping to convince him.
"But Kalam stuck to his principles. Even after returning from Ahmedabad, there was pressure on him to accept the request. But he did not budge. However, their relationship was never the same after this incident," he said refusing to get into the details.
Interestingly, Rameswaram is abuzz with rumours of Modi visiting Kalam's kabar on July 27. However, government officials have no confirmation of the said visit.
Meanwhile, the online petition started by Marakaiyar and later managed by Kalam's well-wishers, has crossed over a lakh of signatures. The silent campaign -- #Justice4GuruKalam - is aimed at getting government attention for a decent memorial at Rameswaram.
(The writer is Consulting Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake.)