New Delhi: 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.
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."
#PresidentMukherjee has been pleased to award Bharat Ratna to Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (posthumously) and to Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
— President of India (@RashtrapatiBhvn) December 24, 2014
PM Narendra Modi also expressed his views on the development and shared an old picture with AB Vajpayee on Twitter.
Atal ji means so much to everyone.A guide, inspiration & giant among giants. His contribution to India is invaluable pic.twitter.com/1MYzQbaakO
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 24, 2014
Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya is remembered as a phenomenal scholar & freedom fighter who lit the spark of national consciousness among people.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 24, 2014
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 with the honour.
A final decision to confer the award was reportedly taken at a meeting chaired by PM Modi 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 AB Vajpayee and Madan Mohan Malaviya.
LK Advani of BJP said, “AB Vajpayee truly 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 Malaviya 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 by the media.
Several BJP leaders expressed their pleasure on the development through their tweets.
Bharat Ratna gets Bharat Ratna . It's a great day for Bharat. Atal ji Ko Pranam
— Tarun Vijay (@Tarunvijay) December 24, 2014
I am very happy on Bharat Ratna being conferred to Pt Madan Mohan Malviya ji & Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji.
— Shahnawaz Hussain (@ShahnawazBJP) December 24, 2014
AAP leader Dr Kumar Vishwas also hailed the govt's decision to confer Bharat Ratna on Vajpayee and Malaviya.
कविकुल ज्येष्ठ अटलजी,शिक्षाप्रसार प्रस्थापक मालवीय जी को "भारतरत्न" से विभूषित कर हम सब स्वयं गौरवान्वित हैं.आइये एक दूसरे को बधाई दें
— Dr Kumar Vishvas (@DrKumarVishwas) December 24, 2014
Rajiv Pratap Rudy of BJP also tweeted:
Sh Vajpayee honoured with Bharat Ratna along wt Pt MM Malviya PM fulfills long awtd demand Wil b celebrated&cherished by World on his B'day
— Rajiv Pratap Rudy (@RajivPratapRudy) December 24, 2014
I welcome the decision of honouring former PM Atal ji and Madan Mohan Malaviya ji with Bharat Ratna, said KC Tyagi of the JD-U.
Prakash Javadekar of the BJP said, “I am very happy to know Bharat Ratna will be conferred on Atal Bihari Vajpayee & late Madan Mohan Malaviya.”
Anoop Mishra, a close relative of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said, “I'm delighted, this should have happened earlier, I extend my heartiest wishes to Modi ji for this.”
The Congress party also welcomed the decision to confer the Bharat Ratna on former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and late freedom fighter and educationist Madan Mohan Malaviya. Congress general secretary Ajay Maken tweeted a congratulatory message after the announcement was made.
"We welcome the conferring of Bharat Ratna on Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya and Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. We congratulate," Maken said.
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 ji should have been bestowed with Bharat Ratna during UPA government itself. I strongly support Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee ji," 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.