Celebrations erupted in Gwalior soon after it was announced that Bharat Ratna would be conferred on former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The announcement that Vajpayee's family had been expecting for sometime brought joy and cheers.
Vajpayee's niece Kanti Mishra (70), who lives in a small portion of Vajpayee’s ancestral home at Kamal Singh Ka Bagh in Chhinde Ki Chhaoni area of Gwalior, said she would prepare Vajpayee's favourite dishes — gajar ka halwa, mugode and besan ka laddoo — to celebrate the occasion and his birthday on Thursday.
"Not only us, the whole country and world is happy after hearing the news. We take pride in him. Though he received the award quite late, we are satisfied that he finally got the award," said Kanti while talking to Hindustan Times.
Vajpayee’s nephew Deepak Vajpayee said, "We were getting hints from various sources (about announcement of Bharat Ratna) and the confirmation came late last night. I am on my way to Delhi and the family will celebrate the twin occasion of Bharat Ratna and his birthday at his official residence in Delhi."
He said they usually celebrate his birthday by preparing a variety of home-cooked dishes which he (Vajpayee) loved.
As soon as the news spread, citizens, including BJP workers, expressed their joy and excitement. The celebratory mood among workers could be gauged as they exchanged greetings over the phone.
BJP district president Abhay Chaudhary, who was in Chinore, about 35 kilometers from Gwalior, expressed his happiness and said a grand celebration will be organised soon. He said this honour was overdue and everybody is celebrating the occasion. Chaudhary also expressed his gratitude to the BJP government at the Centre for fulfilling a long-awaited wish of millions in the country.
Former general secretary of party’s district unit Raj Chaddha, who worked with Vajpayee during 1984 Lok Sabha elections, said, "Better late than never. Atal ji deserved it long back but nevertheless union government’s decision to honour him at this point is praiseworthy."
Gwalior mayor Vivek Shejwalkar said, "I was nostalgic when I got the information. I was a bit sad also because of poor health condition of Atal Ji who possibly is not in a position to express himself."
He said in line with the government’s plan to observe December 25, Vajpayee's birthday as Good Governance Day, the Gwalior Municipal Corporation (GMC) will launch a cleanliness drive and organise some other programmes too.
Read:Atal Bihari Vajpayee's legacy dying a slow death in Gwalior