Zee Media Bureau/Hemant Abhishek
New Delhi: Close on the heels of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and NC leader Farooq Abdullah`s call for a Bharat Ratna for former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Union Minister Pallam Raju too joined the chorus on Monday.
Stating that the people who decide upon the names for the title would look into it, Raju said, "Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been a great statesman and if the country decides, he should get Bharat Ratna."
HRD Minister Shashi Tharoor backed the decision to confer the award on Sachin and said that in the future others could be considered. "People see Sachin as a `Ratna` of Bharat,in the future other names can be considered for the award," Tharoor said and added that everyone has great respect for Vajpayee.
After JD(U) leaders criticised the conferral of Bharat Ratna upon cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had said that veteran socialist Ram Manohar Lohia too deserved a Bharat Ratna ‘long time’ back.
Nitish also seconded Shivanand Tiwari’s opinion that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee deserved the award, and said, “Lohia ji should have been given the Bharat Ratna long back. I think even Atal (Bihari Vajpayee) ji must get it.”
National Conference chief and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah has also supported the demand for giving the country`s highest civilian honour to Vajpayee. "I am not from the BJP, but an Indian and no one can forget Vajpayee-ji was a great leader. I request the government to finally give Bharat Ratna to him," Abdullah told reporters.
The controversy behind conferral of Bharat Ratna awards has refused to die down ever since Tendulkar became the first sportsperson to receive it.
Thereafter, the Bharatiya Janata Party demanded a Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee and its erstwhile ally Janata Dal (United) supported it. Seconding BJP’s motion, JD(U)’s Vashisht Narayan Singh had said on Sunday, “Vajpayee contributed a lot to Indian politics, so if someone supports that I am with them.”
BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad had questioned why the former PM was not considered for the Bharat Ratna award and said that the Bharat Ratna would be conferred on Vajpayee once NDA comes to power in 2014. "I respect Sachin Tendulkar, but why hasn`t Vajpayee ji been awarded Bharat Ratna?” asked Prasad.
Before him, BJP MP and former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha too had written to PM demanding the award to be conferred on Vajpayee this Republic Day given the “unique contribution” made by Vajpayee to public life and his role in the development of the country.