Modi made Kalam President, says Maha BJP chief

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Mumbai, Feb 20 (PTI) Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil on Saturday faced flak after claiming that it was Narendra Modi who made APJ Abdul Kalam the President of India in 2002.

Speaking at a party function in Pune on Friday, Patil said the BJP was not against patriotic Muslims but it opposed only those 'who work as sleeper cells' (work for subversive elements).

'Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given opportunity to many common people....He made APJ Abdul Kalam the President of India,' he said.

The BJP leader then went on to say that Kalam was made president not because of his religion but because of his exemplary contribution as a scientist.

Patil's statement raised eyebrows as Kalam became president in July 2002 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was prime minister.

Modi was then Gujarat chief minister.

On Saturday, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said making Kalam president was a 'masterstroke' of Vajpayee.

'Those who are trying to take credit for it now are inviting ridicule,' he added.

Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Atul Londhe also slammed Patil over the apparent gaffe.

'Patil should not commit a sin by defaming a true patriot like Kalam. His comments are ridiculous,' Londhe said.

'Kalam was made president with the support of all the parties when then prime minister Vajpayee nominated him,' the Congress leader said.

Kalam had shown us the dream of India becoming a world power by 2020, but Modi has junked that dream, he added. PTI ND KRK KRK