On the 86th birthday of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded the ailing leader be conferred the Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award.
"The country can never forget Atalji's contribution to parliamentary democracy. I humbly request the government to honour him with the Bharat Ratna," former BJP president Rajnath Singh told reporters after visiting Vajpayee. "At a time when there is a steady decline of values in Indian politics, he upheld commitments to these values for the last 55 years," he said.
The BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain also demanded the honour for Vajpayee.
Later, BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy also said the same: "Atal ji should get Bharat Ratna. If the country, the government and the Opposition believe that he established a tradition of liberal politics, we believe is such an action is taken it will be good."
Senior leader LK Advani had asked for a Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee 2-3 years back. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also greeted Vajpayee on the occasion.