Former prime minister and BJP veteran Atal Bihari Vajpayee and freedom fighter Madan Mohan Malaviya will be honoured with the country’s highest civilian award the “Bharat Ratna”, the government announced on Wednesday.
Union Cabinet led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier recommended BJP veteran Vajpayee and freedom fighter and educationist Madan Mohan Malaviya’s name for India’s highest civilian honour to President Pranab Mukherjee.
The Centre’s announcement on Bharat Ratna awards comes a day ahead of the veteran BJP leader’s birthday, which falls on December 25. The BJP government had already declared to celebrate December 25 as ‘Good Governance Day’.
After the President’s nod, AB Vajpayee has become the first leader from the country’s political right to be conferred the honour.
A final decision to confer the award was reportedly taken at a meeting PM Modi held yesterday with top BJP leaders including Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah, the party president.
Several politicians have hailed the Centre’s decision to confer Bharat Ratna on Vajpayee and Malviya.
LK Advani of BJP said, “AB Vajpayee truely deserves the award as he had a blemish free tenure as PM.”
I am very happy on Bharat Ratna being conferred to Pt Madan Mohan Malviya ji & Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji, said noted cleric Firang Mahali.
‘Delighted by the news… His statesmanship transcended politics’: Nobel laureate Amartya Sen was quoted as saying.
Several BJP leaders expressed their pleasure on the development through their tweets.
The BJP and Shiv Sena had been demanding the Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee for the last five years.
Interestingly, former Bihar chief minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar had also supported the demand for Bharat Ratna for the saffron party’s tallest leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“Vajpayee jee should have been bestowed with Bharat Ratna during UPA government itself. I strongly support Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee jee,” he told reporters emerging from Legislative Council where he is a member now.
Lauding Vajpayee, Kumar said he had liberal thinking and always respected coalition partners by keeping away divisive agendas of his party.
Last year, when the UPA Government had announced the Bharat Ratna for former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and scientist CNR Rao, the BJP had criticised the Congress for ignoring Vajpayee’s contribution to the nation.
The BJP had also reportedly announced that it would confer the Bharat Ratna to Vajpayee if voted to power.
A Bharat Ratna for Dr Madan Mohan Malaviya, popularly known as ‘Mahamana’, was one of the promises made by the Prime Minister during the campaign for the Lok Sabha polls. The Banaras Hindu University, founded by the educationist, is in the PM’s constituency in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi.
The Bharat Ratna Award, instituted on January 2, 1954, is conferred “in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order”, without distinction of race, occupation, position, or sex.
Till date, 43 illustrious men and women have been honoured with the prestigious award, including leading politician C Rajagopalachari, scientist C V Raman and singer Lata Mangeshkar.
A statement from President Pranab Mukherjee’s office also said, “The President has been pleased to award Bharat Ratna to Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (posthumously) and to Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.”