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Atal Behari Vajpayee will get Bharat Ratna tomorrow


Atal Behari Vajpayee
President Pranab Mukherjee will confer the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award, to former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, a veteran parliamentarian and founder member of the BJP, on March 27. The Bharat Ratna, announced earlier for noted educationist and freedom fighter Madan Mohan Malviya, will be given posthumously to his family members on March 30 at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The President and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be among a host of VVIPs who are likely to be present at Mr Vajpayee’s Krishna Memon Marg residence in Lutyens’ Delhi where he will be honoured.
The announcement for the prestigious award for Mr Vajpayee, the first Prime Minister from outside the Congress to serve a full five-year term, came on December 24 last year, a day before he turned 90.
Mr Vajpayee, who was Prime Minister from 1998 to 2004 and has faded from public life due to age-related illness, is lauded as a statesman and has often been described as the moderate face of the BJP.
Mr Vajpayee has been credited with taking bold initiatives, notable among them being the historic bus journey to Lahore in 1999 when he signed the landmark Lahore Declaration with the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, with both sides pledging to push for peace and security.
Mr Vajpayee’s detractors called him the mask of the RSS but still always had good words for him.
The recommendation for the Bharat Ratna is made by the Prime Minister himself to the President. In 2013, when the UPA government had announced the Bharat Ratna for cricketing great Sachin Tendulkar and scientist C.N.R. Rao, the BJP had criticised the Congress for ignoring Mr Vajpayee’s contribution to the nation.
An educationist with a vision, Madan Mohan Malviya was behind the establishment of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU). Born on December 25, 1861, Malviya was catapulted into the political arena immediately after his first moving speech at the second Congress session held in Kolkata in 1886. He was president of the INC in 1909 and 1918. Malviya is also remembered for his stellar role in the Independence movement and his espousal of Hindu nationalism. He was one of the initial leaders of the right-wing Hindu Mahasabha.
Since its inception, 43 people, including former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bhadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, besides singing legend Lata Mangeshkar, have received the prestigious award.
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