The clamour for awarding the Bharat Ratna to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee grew on Wednesday with some BJP and Shiv Sena MPs claiming he deserved India’s highest civilian award. Vajpayee turns 90 on December 25 and the BJP has planned to celebrate his birthday as ‘good governance day’. Speculation is rife that the government may announce the award on Vajpayee’s birthday.
“Nobody deserves the Bharat Ratna more than Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji,” said Kanpur MP Murli Manohar Joshi, who has been a long-time colleague of the veteran BJP leader. “He (Vajpayee) has done so much great work, and we as party members feel very honoured and happy that it is given to him,” said Mathura MP and actor, Hema Malini.
Shiv Sena MP Anant Geete, also a cabinet minister in Narendra Modi government, said his party supports the demand for conferring the award upon Vajpayee. BSP chief Mayawati said that Vajpayee should get the Bharat Ratna but also demanded that the award be conferred on Dalit icons like Kanshiram as well.
Last year, when the UPA government announced the Bharat Ratna for former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and scientist CNR Rao, the BJP had criticised the Congress for ignoring Vajpayee’s contribution to the nation.
However, Union ministers claim no decision has been taken in this regard. “I am not saying anything on this,” said parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu when asked if Vajpayee would get a Bharat Ratna on his birthday.