New Delhi: Political leaders cutting across the party lines on Friday hailed conferment of Bharat Ratna, country's highest civilian honour, on former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, saying it was a fitting recognition to the international icon, statesman and outstanding orator.
After the award was presented to Vajpayee at his residence by President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra 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 Vajpayee ji is an inspiration.
"The upcoming generations will continue to be inspired by him. I will pray to God for this only that Bharat Ratna Awardee Vajpayee ji's life continues to inspire and guide us forever," he said after the function.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi hailed Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee, saying it is a "fitting recognition" to his wisdom, statesmanship and deep commitment to national interest.
In a letter to Vajpayee on receiving the highest civilian honour, Gandhi 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".
"It is a fitting recognition of your statesmanship, wisdom, and deep commitement to the national interests during your Prime Ministership and indeed throughout your years in politics", she said.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was among the select people witnessing the simple ceremony, described Vajpayee as an international icon who is respected and loved by one and all.
"Our former Prime Minister Vajpayee is not only just an Indian statesman but an international icon who is respected and loved by everyone," Singh said.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the former Prime Minister is a leader par excellence who has worked tirelessly for the nation.
"This a proud moment for the country and all of us. He is a stalwart of the country. He is a leader par excellence who has worked tirelessly in the interest of the nation," Jaitley said.
"In this country, I think there would be very few people like him who are good orator, political leader, thinker and poet. We pray for his good health and long life," Jaitley added.
Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah, who served as Minister of State in Vajpayee's cabinet, said his father Farooq Abdullah had suggested to the UPA Government to award Vajpayee with Bharat Ratna.
"Better late than never. NDA has done it and my heartfelt congratulations to Vajpayee Sahib and his family on the day he receives the Bharat Ratna. It was an honour to serve under him," Omar said.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who was among those present in the lawns of Vajpayee's residence, described him as one of the tallest visionary statesmen of the country.
Conferring Bharat Ratna on him is a fitting recognition of his illustrious political career, he said and described Vajpayee as one of the most outstanding Prime Ministers of the country in the post-Independence era.
He said Vajpayee believed in taking the country forward through consensus and reconciliation.
Praising Vajpayee?s efforts during his tenure as Prime Minister in taking peace initiatives in the State, the Chief Minister said Vajpayee is still admired in Jammu and Kashmir for his historic initiatives in engaging all stakeholders in a constructive and meaningful dialogue.
JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav described him as a veteran leader who enjoyed goodwill of all parties.