Kalam was as popular as Mahatma Gandhi: Shiv Sena

New Delhi: Acknowledging former president Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam’s contribution to the country, the Shiv Sena on Tuesday said he was the only person after Mahatma Gandhi to remain in the hearts of the people even after stepping down from his post.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said Dr. Kalam was connected with the common man even after becoming the president.

“I have been observing the politics of this country from many years. This nation had several big leaders and politicians, but they were famous only when they were in their positions….After Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Kalam was the only person who remained in the hearts of the people even after leaving his post,” Raut told ANI here.

President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and the three service chiefs led the nation in paying their respects and homage to Dr. Kalam’s mortal remains at the Palam Technical Airport here.

The mortal remains of the late president, which arrived in a national flag-draped coffin on an Indian Air Force (IAF) C-130 J Super Hercules Aircraft, were flown to the national capital from Guwahati.

Dr. Kalam’s last rites will be performed at his hometown Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.

The Defence Ministry has said that the public can pay homage to the late president at his 10, Rajaji Marg residence from 4 p.m. onwards.

The Parliament has been adjourned for two days after members offered their tribute and observed two minutes silence as a mark of respect to the late leader’s memory.

Dr. Kalam collapsed after a massive cardiac arrest while delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management in Shillong yesterday.

The government has declared a seven-day national mourning as a mark of respect for Dr. Kalam, who played a stellar role in advancing India’s nuclear programme.

Considered the most popular president, Dr. Kalam became the11th head of the state and occupied the post between 2002 and 2007 during the NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. (ANI)