Former President of India and veteran Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee has been awarded the highest civilian honour of India, the Bharat Ratna award. Also receiving Bharat Ratna are RSS ideologue Nanaji Deshmukh and famous singer from Assam Bhupen Hazarika.
Reacting to the news, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote, “Pranab Da is an outstanding statesman of our times. He has served the nation selflessly and tirelessly for decades, leaving a strong imprint on the nation’s growth trajectory. His wisdom and intellect have few parallels. Delighted that he has been conferred the Bharat Ratna.”
On Deshmukh being conferred with the highest civilian honour, PM Modi tweeted, “Nanaji Deshmukh’s stellar contribution towards rural development showed the way for a new paradigm of empowering those living in our villages. He personifies humility, compassion and service to the downtrodden. He is a Bharat Ratna in the truest sense!”
Modi also paid tribute to Hazarika for his contribution to the field of music through his folk songs. “The songs and music of Shri Bhupen Hazarika are admired by people across generations. From them radiates the message of justice, harmony and brotherhood. He popularised India’s musical traditions globally. Happy that the Bharat Ratna has been conferred on Bhupen Da.”
Congress President Rahul Gandhi congratulated Mukherjee for being awarded the Bharat Ratna honour. He wrote, “Congratulations to Pranab Da on being awarded the Bharat Ratna! The Congress Party takes great pride in the fact that the immense contribution to public service & nation building of one of our own, has been recognised & honoured.”
Mukherjee, a tall Congress leader, was in the news last time because of his decision to accept the RSS invitation to attend its function in Nagpur and address RSS the cadres in June last year.
Born on 11 October, 1916, Deshmukh was a Sangh Parivar veteran, founder member of the Janata Party and one of the senior most members of the Bharatiya Janata Party. He died at the age of 93 in Chitrakoot in 2010.
The decision to award Bharat Ratna to Hazarika assumes significance in view of the BJP’s plans to consolidate its base in the north-east particularly in Assam ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. The party has been facing intense protests over the Citizenship Amendment Bill by locals in Assam.
A popular Assamese singer had recently written to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, asking him to return votes that the saffron party obtained by using his song. Popular Assamese singer Zubeen Garg had taken to his Facebook page to express his dissatisfaction over the passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 by the BJP-led central government.