Row over Kalam statue with Gita next to it snowballs
The row was initially triggered by protests by MDMK chief Vaiko who questioned the appropriateness of placing the Gita before the statue of Kalam given his image as someone who was above religion. Photograph: (Zee News Network)
The row over former President APJ Abdul Kalam's memorial has snowballed further with the Hindu Makkal Katchi (HMK) objecting to the placing of a Quran and Bible next to a sculpture of the Bhagavad Gita.
The books were placed there by President Kalam's family.
Their intention was to say that the former president was "above religion".
The memorial to Kalam -- in his hometown of Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu -- was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 27.
The controversy erupted after one of the statues of the former president unveiled at the inauguration ceremony showed Kalam playing the veena with a copy of the Gita placed before him.
The row was initially triggered by protests by MDMK chief Vaiko who questioned the appropriateness of placing the Gita before the statue of Kalam given his image as someone who was above religion.
The Hindu newspaper reported Vaiko as saying associating Kalam with Thirukural, a classic of Tamil literature -- Kalam was reportedly fondest of it -- would have been more appropriate.
Following which, the Hindu reported, Kalam's grandnephew APJM Sheik Saleem placed a copy of the Quran and the Bible near the sculpture of the Bhagavad Gita.