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I did not receive papers on Afzal's mercy plea: Kalam
July 27, 2007 16:55 IST
Last Updated: July 27, 2007 18:02 IST
Former President A P J Abdul Kalam has answered critics over the delay in deciding on the mercy plea of Mohammed Afzal Guru, facing a death sentence for his role in the terror attack on Parliament, contending that he had not received any papers from the government.
When asked about the decision to dissolve the Bihar assembly as something he could have acted differently on, the former President said, 'I have no regrets. At that time, I was in Russia [Images] and I took the decision there...I had detailed discussions with the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] on the issue and whatever other information I needed was electronically transmitted to me. Based on that, I took the decision.'
The 75-year-old missile scientist justified his decision to return the Office of Profit Bill to Parliament.
The 'people's President' was non-committal on whether he would accept the Prime Minister's post if, at some point, there was a need for a consensus candidate.
On the country getting its first woman President, he said: "It is indeed good news."
Kalam did not favour any revision of the President's powers.
He, however, felt that the President can play a greater role.
About his working with two prime ministers -- Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh -- Kalam said both leaders had 'unique core competence' and were the 'thinking type.'
Observing that he had an 'excellent relationship' with both prime ministers and enjoyed working with them, he said they were men of few words but were action-oriented.
On the issue of reservation for OBCs in educational institutions, Kalam had a simple solution -- the number of seats in colleges should be increased.
Kalam argued that 'self-reliance' was the only way for nuclear energy.
On concerns voiced by some political parties that the Indo-US nuclear deal will compromise the country's strategic capability, Dr Kalam said: 'We have to take the thorium route since we have large reserves of it available...Our scientists can lead to thorium-based nuclear reactor for energy production. I believe in them.'
Candidly admitting that he was concerned over the quality of political discourse in the country and the lack of focus on certain critical issues, he said development was not being talked about as it should be.
'It is not being given the highest priority in all political decisions. For instance, no political party has defined which year India will become economically-developed.
Nor have they discussed how competitive India should be compared to other countries,' he said.
He was of the view that every political leader has to spend at least 70 per cent on developmental politics.