Swamy says Kalam not being truthful about Sonia-for-PM episode – Venky Vembu

Dr. Subramanian SwamyHong Kong: Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy said on Saturday that former President APJ Abdul Kalam was “not being truthful to history” in claiming, as he does in his memoirs, that he had been ready in 2004 to appoint Congress leader Sonia Gandhi as Prime Minister, overruling political opposition that cited Sonia Gandhi‘s foreign origins.

In an interview to Firstpost in Hong Kong on the sidelines of a World Hindu Economic Forum, Swamy said that Kalam should release the letter that (Swamy claims) Kalam wrote to Sonia Gandhi at 3.30 pm on 17 May 2004, which would establish that Kalam had indicated to Sonia Gandhi that her claim to prime ministership would not be honoured.

Abdul Kalam would enhance his credibility “if he published the letter he wrote to Sonia Gandhi at 3.30 pm,” Swamy said. There were two other eyewitnesses to the fact that a letter did go out to Sonia Gandhi, Swamy said.

(Swamy has earlier claimed that both Manmohan Singh and Natwar Singh knew of the letter, and he confirmed that again today.)

Turning Points by A.P.J. Abdul-KalamSwamy’s dare comes in response to claims that Kalam made in his memoirs that he had prepared a letter appointing Sonia Gandhi as Prime Minister, despite political opposition to such a move, from Swamy and others. Kalam also notes in his memoirs that when Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh came to Rashtrapati Bhavan, Sonia Gandhi surprised him (Kalam) by saying that she was appointing Manmohan Singh for the Prime Minister’s post. The appointment letter from Rashtrapati Bhavan, which initially had Sonia Gandhi’s name for Prime Ministership, had to be changed, Kalam notes in his memoirs. (More on that here)

“There were many political leaders who came to meet me to request me not to succumb to any pressure and appoint Mrs Gandhi as the Prime Minister, a request that would not have been constitutionally tenable. If she had made any claim for herself I would have had no option but to appoint her,” says Kalam in his new book Turning Points.

That version of events has now been challenged by Swamy, who says he met Kalam at 12.30 on that afternoon to point out that there were legal obstacles to appointing Sonia Gandhi as Prime Minister.

“I had met (Kalam) at 12.30 pm and explained to him that there is a legal bar,” Swamy told Firstpost. “Subsequently, I learnt that there was a letter written by him cancelling his appointment with Sonia Gandhi for 5 pm” — at which Sonia Gandhi was to have staked her claim to the prime ministership on the basis of supporting letters from alliance parties.

“If Mr Abdul Kalam doesn’t publish that letter, I would think that he is not being truthful to history,” Swamy said.

Swamy has indicated earlier that Kalam had invited him to Rashtrapati Bhavan to explain to him and to other officials the nature of the legal obstacles that Sonia Gandhi’s appointment would face — since, in Swamy’s opinion, her Indian citizenship (by registration) was flawed since she had not renounced her Italian citizenship.

Abdul Kalam, Manmohan Singh & Sonia GandhiSwamy has further claimed that when he was at Rashtrapati Bhavan, he even came across a letter from Sonia Gandhi to President Kalam supporting her own nomination for prime ministership. (He cites this to challenge the dominant Congress narrative that Sonia Gandhi was never interested in the top job.)

When Firstpost asked Swamy if he was standing by his assertion that Kalam had been persuaded not to appoint Sonia Gandhi as Prime Minister, he said emphatically: “Yes, I know it for a fact that a letter was written…. That letter is on record.”

In response to another question, Swamy said he could not explain why Kalam was today offering an alternative version of the narrative that challenged Swamy’s. Asked if Kalam’s claim should be seen in the light of the aborted attempt to nominate him for a second term as President, perhaps with the support of the Congress, Swamy declined to speculate. “The more important question is: why is he saying what he is saying now,” he added.

Asked if he was disappointed at having pitched for a second term for Kalam as President (in the light of the revelations in Kalam’s memoirs, which challenge Swamy’s version of the events), Swamy said he had no regrets at all, “I still believe he would have made a very good candidate.” Perhaps there were other circumstances that he didn’t know about that might account for Kalam’s change in the narrative, Swamy added. – FirstPost, 30 June 2012

2 Responses

  1. 16th May 2004
    May 4th 2012 RTI filed by Agarwal
    “In its reply, dated 26th April 2012, the secretariat said that, “Letter written by Dr Subramanian Swamy, president, Janata Party to the president was inter alia, a communication sent in confidence by him to the president, based on which the president exercised his/her discretion to appoint the prime minister under Article 75.”
    However, the president’s secretariat refused to furnish the copy of the letter as asked by Mr Agrawal in his RTI application. “Disclosure would be a breach of confidentiality and fiduciary relationship and therefore attracts section 8(1) (e) of RTI Act.”
    Mr Agrawal, who has now appealed with the aappellate authority at the president’s secretariat, says that, “It is surprising that when author of the letter namely Dr Subramanian Swamy is openly revealing through the media about contents of the letter, how could the president’s secretariat claim the information to be fiduciary in nature? Significantly the CPIO (chief public information officer) has himself confessed that the then Honourable President of India exercised his right to appoint the prime minister based on that letter. At the most, the CPIO could invite ‘Third Party’ comments under section 11 of RTI Act on disclosing the said letter from Dr Swamy within five days of the receipt of RTI petition, which was not done, making the provision infructuous now at this stage”.


  2. May 17, 2004, 08.28pm IST
    NEW DELHI: Congress president Sonia Gandhi called allies to a meeting at 10 Janpath, amidst speculation is rife that SHE WILL OPT OUT as prime minister. But within minutes, Manmohan Singh stepped out to announce that there is no scope for any rumours and Sonia will stake her claim to form government.In an unusual move, Sonia called a second meeting of her allies. …..

    The above TOI report looks like the one after 3.30 pm which Swamy refers . Looks Swamy has a point .

    Then suddenly on May 17th 2004 10.39 pm night to May 18th 2004 morning all changes as it is written in the above 8.38 pm report that MMS stepped to announce that there is no scope for rumours…..
    with Mani Shankar Aiyar almost crying loudly like a 4 yr old kid.

    Then as Kalam points out below, there must have been pressure on him by Congress leaders, who were urging him not to succumb to any pressure. . He has written that there was pressure not to appoint and there was pressure not to succumb to pressure not to appoint. He is very clear on the many political leaders, which is obviously Congress and allies and not clear on what , who and how much was the pressure applied not to appoint. May be one has to wait for the book. If in the book he does not mention details on the people who applied pressure not to appoint SG AS PM , THEN KALAM IS NOT HONEST. AN HONEST PERSON WILL WRITE BOTH SIDES OF THE PRESSURE STORIES. Lets wait for book.

    There were many political leaders who came to meet me to request me not to succumb to any pressure and appoint Mrs Gandhi as the Prime Minister, a request that would not have been constitutionally tenable. If she had made any claim for herself I would have had no option but to appoint her,” says Kalam in his new book Turning Points.

    This is May 17th 2004 10.39 pm IST
    This is May 17th 2004 11:27 pm IST
    This is May 18th @ 9.39 am IST news in TOI


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