New Delhi, Feb 26: Ignoring Opposition pleas to stay away, President A P J Abdul Kalam today unveiled a portrait of Hindu Mahasabha leader Veer Savarkar in the Central Hall of Parliament at a function boycotted by the entire Opposition barring former prime minister Chandra Shekhar.
Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Prime Minister
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, Lok
Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi and a host of Union ministers
were present at the function, attended by members of the BJP
and its allies including DMK, TDP and Samata.
While deputy chairperson of Rajya Sabha Najma
Heptullah, who belongs to the Congress, participated in the
function, her party colleague and Deputy Speaker P M Sayeed
was not present.
As the president unveiled the portrait, the Central
Hall was reverberated with chants of "Swatantryaveer Savarkar
Amar Rahe" and "Jab Tak Suraj Chand Rahega, Savarkar Tera Naam
Rahega" (long live Swatantrayaveer Savarkar).
The unveiling of the portrait had snowballed into a
major controversy with opposition parties deciding to boycott
the function and also asking the president to stay away from
Congress president and Leader of the Opposition Sonia
Gandhi had yesterday joined leaders of other Opposition
parties and wrote to Kalam not to take part in the function in
view of a "serious controversy" in the matter.