Atal Bihari Vajpayee gets Bharat Ratna

President Pranab Mukherjee, goes to Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s (Former Prime Minister of India) house, confers Bharat Ratna

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President Pranab Mukherjee conferring the Bharat Ratna on former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at his residence in New Delhi on Friday 27th March 2015.

Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee was conferred the country’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, at a special function at his residence on Friday.

In a rare departure from protocol, President Pranab Mukherjee, himself a veteran parliamentarian, drove to Vajpayee’s residence at Krishna Menon Marg in Lutyens’ Delhi to confer the honour at a simple ceremony as the latter is ailing and has been out of public life.

The brief event took place in the presence of select dignitaries including Vice-President Hamid Ansari, PM Narendra Modi, home minister Rajnath Singh and close family members that included his foster daughter Namita and foster son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at Vajpayee’s residence.
The citation read out at the occasion described Vajpayee as a statesman known for a subtle sharpness that engaged, attracted and brought many together. In his six-decade-long political career, five of them in Parliament, Vajpayee was elected to Lok Sabha 10 times and twice to Rajya Sabha.

Prime minister from 1998 to 2004, Vajpayee has faded from public life due to age-related illness. The event was kept out of media glare.

Considered the moderate face of BJP, he has been credited with taking bold initiatives for forging good ties with Pakistan which included a historic bus journey to Lahore in 1999 when he signed the landmark Lahore Declaration with Nawaz Sharif with both sides pledging to push for peace and security.

After the presentation of award, a tea was hosted for a select group of leaders who were invited for the function that included former President A P J Abdul Kalam, former PM Manmohan Singh, BJP leader L K Advani, Arun Jaitley, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav and chief ministers Parkash Singh Badal (Punjab), Mufti Mohammed Sayeed (Jammu and Kashmir), N Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh) and Vasundhara Raje (Rajasthan).

Modi said, “Atalji’s life was dedicated to the nation, he lived and thought for the nation for every second. In India there are crores of workers like me in whose life Vajpayeeji is an inspiration. The upcoming generations will continue to be inspired by him. I will pray to god that Bharat Ratna awardee Vajpayeeji’s life continues to inspire and guide us forever,” he said after the function.

Modi also thanked the President for his gesture to honour Vajpayee at his residence saying, “I express my gratitude to the President who himself came here and personally bestowed upon him, the Bharat Ratna award.”

“It is a historic day for crores of Indians today when Atal Bihari Vajpayee is being given Bharat Ratna award,” he later tweeted.

After the ceremony which lasted for about 30 minutes, Jaitley told reporters that Bharat Ratna was conferred at the BJP leader’s residence as “Vajpayeeji does not go out on account of health reasons”.

The honour was in recognition of his services to the country as a “powerful nationalist leader, one of the longest serving parliamentarians, a poet and a thinker who was not only leader of his own party but of the entire country”, he said.

The citation also said Vajpayee was a true leader, undeterred by colleagues and opposition leaders alike and always followed his instinct and heart in initiating diplomatic dialogues with Pakistan.

“His efforts are deemed as a defining moment in Indo-Pak relations… This element of original and individualistic thinking helped in building a vision of India both futuristic, yet stable. Shri Vajpayee made this apparent not only with the importance he gave to foreign diplomacy, but in leading India to conduct nuclear tests in Pokhran in May 1998. His example, both in politics and other wise, embodies the need for coexistence coupled with cultivating for the nation a strong sense of self,” it said.

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The media was kept away from the ceremony and the sole photograph was clicked in a manner that Vajpayee’s face was not visible. Vajpayee has been out of public life for the last many years due to ill health.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi also praised Vajpayee, saying he had a large-hearted vision and the award is a fitting recognition of his statesmanship, wisdom and deep commitment to the national interests. She wrote a letter to Vajpayee in which she said, “Your broad and large-hearted vision, your patriotism and eloquent oratory have always embraced the entire political spectrum and all sections of our society.”

Among others who were present at the brief event were Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Vajpayee’s close family members, including his foster son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya and foster daughter Namita.

The Bharat Ratna citation, read out on the occasion, described Vajpayee as a statesman known for a subtle sharpness that engages, attracts and brings many together. In his sixdecade-long political career, five of which in Parliament, Vajpayee was elected to Lok Sabha 10 times and twice to Rajya Sabha.

After the presentation of the award, a tea party was hosted for a select group of leaders who were invited to the function that included former President APJ Abdul Kalam, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, BJP leader L.K. Advani, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, and chief ministers Parkash Singh Badal (of Punjab), Mufti Mohammed Sayeed (Jammu and Kashmir), N. Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh) and Vasundhara Raje (Rajasthan).

“The honour is in recognition of his services to the country as a powerful nationalist leader, one of the longest-serving parliamentarians, a poet and a thinker who was not only leader of his party but of the entire country,” Jaitley said.

Vajpayee has been credited with taking bold initiatives for forging good ties with Pakistan which included the historic bus journey to Lahore in 1999 when he signed the Lahore Declaration with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

 

 

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