Bharat Ratna for Atal Behari Vajpayee, Madan Mohan Malaviya
24 December 2014
The President's Office on Wednesday announced the Bharat Ratna award to former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (posthumously).
''The President has been pleased to award Bharat Ratna to Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (posthumously) and to Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee,'' a brief announcement by the President's Office stated.
The announcement was made on the eve of Vajpayee's 90th birthday and the 153rd birth anniversary of Pandit Malviya.
The BJP has been demanding Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee for a long time and senior BJP leader LK Advani had earlier written a letter to the UPA government to award the Bharat Ratna to the former Prime Minister, which the UPA government, however, overlooked .
In 2013, the award was conferred on cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and scientist CNR Rao.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his election campaign had proposed Bharat Ratna for Pandit Malviya, a freedom fighter and the founder of the Benaras Hindu University.
Vajpayee will be the seventh prime minister to receive the award, while Pandit Malviya will be the 12th person to be honoured posthumously.
Former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Morarji Desai, Lal Bahadur Shastri, as also the first governor general of free India C Rajagopalachari and former Deputy Prime Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel have been conferred with the Bharat Ratna award.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed delight at the announcement. "Bharat Ratna being conferred on Pt Madan Mohan Malaviya and Atal Bihari Vajpayee is a matter of great delight.
Country's highest honour to these illustrious stalwarts is a fitting recognition of their service to the Nation. Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya is remembered as a phenomenal scholar and freedom fighter who lit the spark of national consciousness among people.
Atal ji means so much to everyone. A guide, inspiration and giant among giants. His contribution to India is invaluable," the Prime Minister said.
The Congress party also welcomed the conferment of Bharat Ratna on Vajpayee and late educationist Malaviya, saying it hoped that the NDA government will follow the path of 'Raj Dharma' and secularism shown by them.
Meanwhile, People's Democratic Party (PDP) patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed hailed the centre's decision to confer Bharat Ratna on former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
"Vajpayee deserved country's highest honour not only for his contribution in India's political arena but for his historic peace and reconciliation initiatives in and around Jammu & Kashmir," Sayeed said in a statement.
"The political sagacity, maturity and vision of Vajpayee and extension of friendship to Pakistan in the aftermath of the Parliament attack and the ceasefire announced by him are some of the historic confidence building measures which dawned a new era of peace and tranquility in the state and the region," he said.