'Informed Vajpayee of wish to be all party candidate' | india | Hindustan Times
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'Informed Vajpayee of wish to be all party candidate'

india Updated: Jan 26, 2009 07:18 IST

Former president A P J Abdul Kalam on Sunday said that he has informed former prime minister A B Vajpayee that he wished to be an all-party candidate for the 2002 presidential poll when the latter asked him over phone, seeking a 'yes' or 'no.'

Kalam said he received the call from Vajpayee just after he returned from a teaching session in Anna University in Chennai.

"When Vajpayee said my name had come up (in the NDA) and he sought my consent, I asked him for at least two hours of time to think it over...But he said he wanted only yes or no from me," Kalam, said, speaking at a felicitation function for former Vice-Chancellors of the University on the occasion of its 30th anniversary in Chennai.

"I made around 30 calls to my friends before calling back Vajpayee and told him that I wanted to be an all-party candidate with the consensus of all. In the next 15 minutes my candidature was announced," Kalam, who defeated Lakshmi Sehgal fielded by Left parties for the Presidential race then, said, adding that Congress also later came forward to support him.

"There it was. Anna University gave India its eleventh President," he said amidst thunderous applause.

Kalam said that when Vajpayee called him he was in the penultimate session of the ten lectures session he was scheduled to deliver at the University.

Reiterating his Vision 2020, Kalam said he envisaged an India free of poverty, illiteracy, denial of education on social and economic grounds and reduction of urban-rural divide among others.

He said all should strive to achieve these goals.