Patna: His acrimony for BJP notwithstanding, JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar on Tuesday supported the demand for Bharat Ratna for the saffron party's tallest leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
"Vajpayee jee should have been bestowed with Bharat Ratna during UPA government itself. I strongly support Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee jee," 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.
"His personality and good lessons I learnt under him in the NDA ministry will always have an imprint on me," Kumar, who served as Railway and than Surface Transport Minister in the NDA rule of Vajpayee, said and expressed good wishes to him on his birthday on December 25.
The JD(U) leader, who made his party sever ties with BJP over elevation of Narendra Modi in June last year, criticised the BJP government announcement to celebrate Vajpayee's birthday as "sushan diwas" (good governance day).
"Just taking his name is not enough. Celebration could come only when the present government followed ideals of Vajpayee jee," he said.
He recalled Vajpayee asking Modi, who was then Gujarat Chief Minister, to follow "Raj Dharma" in the wake of Godhra riots.