“The Prime Minister is coming,” Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu confirmed when asked if he would be attending the last rites of the former “scientist-President”.
Speaking to reporters at the Palam technical area from where the mortal remains of the former president was flown to his hometown Rameswaram by a special aircraft, Naidu said some chief ministers are also expected to attend the last rites.
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The Prime Minister will arrive early in the morning and attend the rituals at around 11 am, sources said.
Penning his tribute to the ‘missile man’ and who was felicitated with the highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, Modi in his blog, said “Bharat has lost a Ratna”.
“Our scientist-President – and one who was genuinely loved and admired across the masses – never measured success by material possessions,” he said.
“For him, the counterpoint to poverty was the wealth of knowledge, in both its scientific and spiritual manifestations,” the Prime Minister said.
He remembered Kalam as one who took little from the world, and gave all he could to the society.
“Kalamji refused to be defeated by circumstances. His character, commitment and inspirational vision shine through his life. He was unencumbered by ego; flattery left him cold,” Modi said.
Describing him as a “hero” of India’s defence, the Prime Minister said his contributions to “our nuclear and space achievements have given India the muscle to be confident of her place in the region and the world.”
Modi said his profound idealism was secure because it rested on a foundation of realism.
Kalam was “equally at ease before an audience of suave, globe-trotting ministers and a class of young students”, Modi said.