Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today turned 87, an occasion which was used by his party BJP to demand 'Bharat Ratna', the country's highest civilian award, for him.
BJP leaders, including former party president Rajnath Singh and Jaswant Singh, visited Vajpayee's residence here and wished him on his birthday.
After wishing Vajpayee, Rajnath Singh said the former Prime Minister deserved Bharat Ratna for his contributions to the country.
"The country can never forget Vajpayee's contribution to parliamentary democracy. Therefore, I humbly request the Government to honour him with the Bharat Ratna," he told reporters.
"At a time when there is a steady decline of values in Indian politics, Vajpayee is a leader who upheld commitments to these values for the last 55 years," he said.
BJP spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain described Vajpayee as a "living legend" and "tallest leader" in Asia and said he should be conferred with 'Bharat Ratna'.
"Everyone should raise above party affiliation to support him for the honour as there is no bigger leader than him today," he said.
Senior party leader Jaswant Singh, who also greeted Vajpayee, expressed his "sense of gratitude" to the former Prime Minister and to the party for having given him the opportunity to serve the country under him.
"That has been the greatest period of my life," Singh said.
He, however, expressed concern about his health, saying is "health is of course under strain".