Former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly on Friday joined the chorus in bestowing the Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award, on champion batsman Sachin Tendulkar.
"Sachin is a Bharat Ratna. There is no doubt that he should be conferred the Bharat Ratna award. Sachin deserves all honours and I am his great fan," Ganguly said.
Tendulkar is one short of scoring a record 100th international centuries.
Here to lead Bengal in a crucial Ranji tie against Baroda, Ganguly's statement assumes significance after the Government of India made necessary changes in eligibility criteria for making sportspersons eligible for the Bharat Ratna award a couple of days ago.
The prestigious honour will now be awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance "in any field of human endeavour", thus bringing in almost all the areas that were earlier left out of the ambit.
Till now only those people were considered eligible for the award who had excelled in art, literature, science and public service of the highest order, leaving out other fields such as sports.
Union sports minister Ajay Maken has said that this move has cleared the decks for Tendulkar, legendary hockey player Dhyan Chand and others.
Reports indicated that the change has been brought in through a notification from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) following a recommendation by the Home and Sports Ministries.
On Thursday, a research report in Australia described Tendulkar as the greatest ever batsman ahead of even Sir Donald Bradman.