New Delhi: Senior BJP leader LK Advani has backed awarding the Bharat Ratna to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and said he regarded it as "significant" that the Narendra Modi government has decided to observe Dec 25, Vajpayee's birthday, as 'Good Governance Day'.
In an interview to an English news channel, Advani said: "A Bharat Ratna for Atal Bihari Vajpayee should not be seen in terms of a reward for doing his duty but as an award that recognises his stature. It would be very appropriate and befitting for a patriot like Vajpayee."
"I regarded it significant that the new government has decided to observe Dec 25, Vajpayeeji's birthday as 'Good Governance Day'," the Bharatiya Janata Party leader said.
"Though from the point of view of Bharat Ratna, I don't think Bharat Ratna is appropriate as a reward for something that Vajpayee has contributed to the country. Whatever he has done, he has been doing his duty both as a patriot as well as the person assigned for the responsibility of becoming the prime minister of the country.
Advani said Vajpayee "has been doing his duty and I do not think in terms of Bharat Ratna being a reward for performing one's duty".
"If he is given Bharat Ratna, as I have myself suggested once, it would be very appropriate and befitting for a patriot like Vajpayee," he said.
The government has drawn flak for an earlier directive asking schools and universities to observe the Dec 25 holiday of Christmas as 'Good Governance Day'.
Following strident criticism, the Modi government allowed schools to remain closed on Christmas.
However, it has asked ministries to observe the day as 'Good Governance Day' or "Sushashan Diwas". The ministries have lined up programmes to mark Vajpayee's birthday.