A sacred book stand with words “Bhagavad Gita” engraved which mysteriously appeared by the statue of former president APJ Abdul Kalam at his memorial in Rameswaram before its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week — has triggered a controversy.
Tamil Nadu’s opposition MDMK has alleged that it is a “sinister move by the BJP government”.
The holy books were placed on the podium by Kalam’s family members.
Underscoring that Dr Kalam was “above any religion”, a member of his family said they were foxed by the sudden appearance of the engraving at the foot of Dr Kalam’s statue.
“Only on the day of the dedication, it was quietly placed before the Prime Minister arrived. It was a surprise,” he said.
“People who would visit the memorial all over the world, shouldn’t mistake that he loved only the Gita,” Mr Vaiko said.
He also insisted that Thirukurazh, a classic Tamil literary text replace the Gita.
Dr Kalam had often quoted couplets from it during his speeches.
“It will be a fitting tribute if Thirukurazh is placed there instead. It’s universally acceptable,” he said.
This morning, Dr Kalam’s grand-nephew Sheikh Salim placed copies of the Quran and Bible belonging to the former President next to the Gita.
But the two texts had to be removed following protests by a fringe Hindu group.
“We built everything according to the plan given to us. We’ve no say in this,” the official said.
“we have moved them back to the box they were in. Now only the Gita is near the statue of him playing Veena,” the official said.
Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan said “Kalam loved all religions. I don’t understand how they make Kalam a subject of debate”.
State Finance Minister D Jayakumar said “We would take up this issue with the centre if required”.
The Rs 20-crore monument – inaugurated by PM Modi on Thursday