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President finds support in Cyberia

Numerous net pleas rally public support for extension of APJ Kalam's tenure, reports Sweta Ramanujan-Dixit.

india Updated: Feb 07, 2007 03:18 IST

He knows the power of technology so it is only fair that President APJ Abdul Kalam finds support among communities that technology has brought together.

The Internet, these days, is abuzz with pro-Kalam activity. The Pune Nagrik Manch (PNM), a citizen’s initiative, has posted an online petition to get people to vote in favour of a second term for Kalam as President. It has managed to garner over 86,000 signatures so far. It is reaching out to people through the popular networking site, Orkut, and through e-groups on Yahoo.

“I think this is a mass movement by the citizens for the citizens of India,” Sujeet Shilamkar, president of PNM and IT professional, wrote in an email to HT. According to Shilamkar, Kalam is a “ray of hope”. “In recent years, none of those who held this post have been able to devise constructive programmes of national and people welfare interests…He is the only man who deserves to the first citizen of our country,” Shilamkar, 25, stated.

Online petitions and networking sites have been mobilising public opinion on various issues from the Jessica Lall case to reservations in educational institutions. With Kalam’s tenure expiring in July 2007, the online petition aims to mobilise public support for an extension of his term. The idea is to the scientists and other fans of the President and put pressure on political parties to ensure Kalam continues as President.

“We have received a tremendous response from all over the world,” Shilamkar wrote. “We have forwarded the letters and mails to all Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members.”

The PNM also organised a rally in Pune on January 12 to press their demand. The PNM is now planning to visit educational institutions for a signature campaign and start a Short Messaging Service (SMS) campaign.

The community Vote for President Kalam, which was created on Orkut in November 2006, has 118 members. It links visitors and members to /voteforpresident, an online vote forum launched by Bhaskaracharya Astronomy Research Centre, an Ahmednagar-based organisation that works to improve educational standards of students.

A message posted by Abhi Patil said, “After a long time India realised that President is not a rubber stamp.”

Chennai-based Sriram Sundar owns the 30-member community Kalam…Continue as president while New Delhi’s Tarun Saini has created the community APJ Abdul Kalam as president, which has 28 members.

“The campaign, ‘Justice For Jessica’ proved a great success. It showed how public opinion forced the Executives, Legislature & Judiciary to give Jessica justice,” Saini, a postgraduate in political science and international relations from Delhi University, wrote on the community’s homepage. “So why not try and check out the popularity of our beloved President?”

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First Published: Feb 07, 2007 02:49 IST