Merely two days after a grand opening of the Abdul Kalam memorial in Rameswaram, controversy broke out over a Bhagavad Gita copy that was placed in front of a statue of the former President. Kalam's grandnephew in response, kept a copy of the Quran and the Bible, on Sunday, along with the Hindu text, in what he claims to be an effort to avoid further speculation regarding the matter.
MDMK founder Vaiko brought up the matter on Saturday while addressing the media in Ezhumpur. He asked, why a statue of Abdul Kalam playing the Veena was present in the memorial and claimed that it was not right to place a copy of the Bhagavad Gita in front of the statue. The veteran politician alleged that this was against the values of secularism that the former President stood for.
Talking to The News Minute Kalam's grandnephew Salim said, "Kalam has never liked such controversy. So it was my duty to end it. These texts were already in a glass box near the statue and due to the haste with which the memorial was completed, it couldn't be placed there. And since the public keep visiting, it seemed like a better idea to showcase them in the glass box."
Vaiko, however, was not convinced. In a telephonic interview to Puthiya Thalaimurai, he said, "If they had kept the Tirukkural nobody would have questioned it. Kalam is known to have spread the messages of that scripture. But making the Bhagavad Gita part of that installation shows that there is a Hindutva agenda in place."
He further added, "Salim may have placed the other books with good intention but can he represent all the other religions in this way as well? What about the Sikhs, the Zoroastrians and others?"
Salim, however, rebutted this claim by stating that a library will soon be open to the public, with all the books Kalam has read. "There will over 5,000 books. Kalam is someone who respected all religions and took the good from their texts. I don't know why a prominent politician like Vaiko is trying to create controversy around a person of this stature," Salim says.