New Delhi, Nov 30: APJ Abdul Kalam wanted to quit as President of India in 2005. This has been revealed by Kalam's aide S M Khan who was his Press Secretary at that time.
While addressing the students of Sikshya O Ansandhan University in Bhubaneswar on Saturday, Khan said that after the Supreme Court quashed the proclamation dissolving Bihar Assembly, Kalam had thought of leaving the post.
"Though Kalam was reluctant, he signed the proclamation. He could have rejected it but would have had no option but to sign the same if it was sent to him for the second time," Khan said.
When the Apex court quashed the proclamation, Kalam was penitent saying he should have rejected the Cabinet's decision and thought of resigning from his post, Khan said, adding "He even consulted his elder brother in Rameswaram.
Kalam later decided against any such step as it would have triggered a lot of constitutional problems, said the former Press Secretary, who is at present the Director General of RNI, in his lecture titled 'My Days with the Greatest Human Soul Ever'.
2005 Political crisis of Bihar
In 2005, the then Bihar Governor Buta Singh had recommended the dissolution of the Assembly which the Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved and forwarded to the President.
Kalam, who was on a visit to Moscow at that time, signed it there.
It was challenged in the Supreme Court whose five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, in a majority verdict held on October 7, 2005 that "the proclamation of May 23 dissolving the Bihar Assembly is unconstitutional."
'President did not own anything'
Describing Kalam, who passed away in July this year, as a person who was completely detached from material things, Khan said the late President did not own anything, be it a house, a car, a television or a refrigerator.
"Almost all his life as a scientist and teacher, he lived in hostels and guest houses. But his only possession were his books. And he insisted that he should buy his books and never took any book from any one as a gift saying chances were that he would not read them," he said.
Khan also recalled that the technology-savvy President once informed Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee that he intended to meet his cabinet members as he wanted to explain to them about his vision for a developed India by 2020, a pet theme for him till the last, through a power point presentation.
Though the Prime Minister was not convinced, he agreed to the proposal and a cabinet meeting was held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Kalam took the PM and other ministers through the presentation spread over two hours, Khan said.
He had a penchant for power point presentations and would insist on the same even when he was meeting foreign dignitaries and head of states. "When President George Bush visited him in 2006, he made him sit through a presentation," said Khan who was present during the talk.
"After the presentation ended, Bush told him '0Sir, it needs to be a scientist to understand this. But we will work on this'," Khan recalled.
Khan said that when Kalam's tenure was coming to an end, there was intense media speculation as to whether he would be offered a second term in the high office.
The then UPA government, however, was not in favour of Kalam getting a second term though some political leaders urged him to contest as an independent. The idea got a boost when the BJP, which had set up Mr. Bhairon Singh Sekhawat as its candidate against UPA's Ms. Pratibha Patil, hinted that it might even pull out its candidate and support Kalam as an independent. But Kalam declined to contest.
Kalam had great interest in religion and spiritual matters too, Khan said adding that he (Kalam) would often say that 'all religions were beautiful islands but there was no connectivity between them'.
Though a renowned scientist, he felt science and religion working together could achieve wonders, the former aide said.
(With inputs from PTi)