Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and freedom fighter Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya were on Wednesday chosen for the country’s highest civilian award Bharat Ratna.
“The president has been pleased to award Bharat Ratna to Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (posthmously) and to Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee,” a Rashtrapati Bhavan communique said.
Political leaders cutting across party lines welcomed Modi government’s decision to bestow Bharat Ratna award to the 90-year-old veteran politician and late freedom fighter-educationist.
Expressing his views, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Country’s highest honour to these illustrious stalwarts is a fitting recognition of their service to the nation.”
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee welcomed the Centre’s decision to confer ‘Bharat Ratna’ on the former prime minister.
“I welcome the decision. We all love and respect Vajpayeeji,” Banerjee, who served as a minister in the Vajpayee cabinet, told PTI when her reaction was sought on the announcement made by the Centre.
Congress leader and Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi too welcomed the decision.
“Very happy to know that Bharat Ratna is being conferred on Vajpayee and Malviya ji. Everyone knows Malviya ji was a freedom fighter and an educationist. When Vajpayee was the PM, even if he was in a different party he helped me. I am also personally grateful to him,” Gogoi said.
Vajpayee’s relative Anoop Mishra expressed happiness over Modi governmnet’s decision to confer ‘Bharat Ratna’ on the former PM. Mishra, however, maintained that the award should have been given much earlier.
Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) leader Shahnawaz Hussain said that he was very happy on Bharat Ratna being conferred to Pt Madan Mohan Malviya and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Shahnawaz tweeted, “I am very elated. I will always be grateful to Atal ji who gave me an opportunity in his cabinet & made me youngest ever cabinet minister.”
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis thanked President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for for choosing Vajpayee and Malviya for Bharat Ratna.
Vajpayee’s long-time political colleague LK Advani also expressed happiness over government’s decision to confer Bharat Ratna to Vajpayee.
Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal welcomed the decision and said it was a good choice to honour the two with Bharat Ratna. The SP leader recommended names of Jayaprakash Narayan and Dr Ram Manohar Lohia for the award.
Janata Dal (United) leader KC Tyagi welcomed the decision of honouring Vajpayee Malaviya the highest civilian award.
Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi hailed the decision to bestow Bharat Ratna to Vajpayee and said he should have got it much earlier.
JD(U) leader and former Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar congratulated Vajpayee and said the UPA government should have conferred the award on the former prime minister.
“Atal ji’s contribution to the country will always be remembered. I congratulate him. We also wanted Bharat Ratna for Atal ji. The UPA government should have given this award to him,” Kumar said.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said it is indeed heartening and a matter of pride for every Indian to confer the award to the two legends. Chouhan tweeted, “Atal ji, the tallest statesman of our times. An inspiration of service to the nation. Bharat Ratna is least India could confer on her son.”
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh praised President Pranab and PM Modi for conferring Vajpaee with Bharat Ratna. Singh tweeted, “Atal ji is a great leader & statesman, it’s a matter of great joy for nation. I praise @RashtrapatiBhvn & PM @narendramodi for their efforts.”
90-year-old Vajpayee had re-started the Bharatiya Jan Sangh as the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1980 and was the first head of government from outside the Congress party to serve a full five-year term.
The honour for Gwalior-born Vajpayee, who was the country’s prime minister first in 1996 and then again from 1998 to 2004, came after years of demands from people across party affiliations and the public at large.