'When you can use Mahatma Gandhi and Babasaheb Ambedkar's names, why can't you use Dr Kalam's name?'
'The idea is to take Dr Kalam's vision to the people.'
'Elections will come and go, but the vision will stand.'
V Ponraj is leader of the Abdul Kalam Vision India Party. The party was launched in Rameswaram in February. On May 6, the Madras high court President A P J Abdul Kalam's name could not be used for the party.
Earlier the Election Commission too raised objections to the name. Both the Election Commission and the high court had given this ruling after President Kalam's nephew (elder brother's son) had raised objections to his uncle's name being used for the party.
Ponraj worked as the then President's scientific advisor and continued his association till Kalam's death in Shillong on July 27, 2015. He spoke to A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com after the high court ruling.
Why do want to name your party after President Kalam?
I have not started the party. The youth of the country have started the party and they named it. They called me to lead the party to realise Dr Kalam's vision.
We have to name the party after him because it is his vision that we are propagating. I joined the party because I agree with this vision.
What did you say when you filed a counter affidavit to the Election Commission when it raised objections?
The legal cell has prepared the counter. When you can use Mahatma Gandhi and Babasaheb Ambedkar's names, why can't you use Dr Kalam's name?
He had given a vision to develop India, develop every state.
The objection is politically motivated. Dr Kalam does not have an heir. One of his nephews joined the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party).
On what grounds will you appeal?
The legal team is working on it. There is no ban on using President Kalam's name.
Once you form a political party, you have to register it. To register you choose a party name. The youth chose Dr Kalam's name. I don't know why I cannot use it.
The family says President Kalam did not have a political agenda. Don't you also agree with that?
This shows their ignorance of Dr Kalam. I have lived with him for 20 years. They should read his books.
Manifesto for Change is a completely political book. It tells the youth to join politics and practice developmental politics.
As the elections in Tamil Nadu are only days away, it looks like your party will not be able to participate in it this time.
What are your future plans for the party?
We have conducted a training programme for the candidates. After that we had a series of tests and interviews. We have selected 24 candidates and they have filed their nominations.
We have an electoral alliance with the Gandhiya Makkal Ayekkam. They have put up 22 candidates.
We have released our vision document for Tamil Nadu for the next ten years. We will propagate the vision. Every vote we get is an encouragement.
The idea is to take Dr Kalam's vision to the people. Elections will come and go, but the vision will stand. We will keep going forward.
IMAGE: V Ponraj with President A P J Abdul Kalam during the Rediff Chat, November 14, 2005. Photograph: Jewella C Miranda/Rediff.com