Panaji: Even as the controversy surrounding Bharat Ratna refuses to die down, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari on Wednesday downplayed the raging debate saying that it was not the end-all of the awarding process of the country`s highest civilian award.
Addressing mediapersons in Goa, Tewari defended the government`s decision to confer Bharat Ratna on scientist CNR Rao and cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, soon after his retirement from all formats of the game in Mumbai last week.
"I don`t think that anybody dispute the fact that there are others who also deserve (the award). It`s appropriate at that time that others should also be considered," the minister said reacting to BJP`s demand to honour party veteran and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee with the award.
"This is not the end of Bharat Ratna process. This is rather a beginning. There is no controversy in it. I think we should applaud the fact that a sports person is felicitated and if at all other sportsperson are need to be felicitated, Government will look at it," he said.
BJP had raised the issue asking why Vajpayee was not bestowed with Bharat Ratna for his contribution in the formation of Chhattisgarh and for being the most popular Prime Minister of the country.
The party had said that after the next general elections if BJP comes to power, it will felicitate Vajpayee, which he rightly deserves.
Also, a petition has been filed challenging the Centre`s decision to honour the just-retired cricketer and alleging a `conspiracy` to ignore hockey legend Dhyan Chand.
The petition said none of the distinguished persons like Vajpayee, socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia or other cricketers who had brought glory to the country had been considered for the award.