The Union home ministry ordered for five Bharat Ratna medallions from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) mint in February this year during the previous UPA regime as the President's Secretariat wanted one for displaying it in the Rashtrapati Bhawan museum, sources told HT.
"The five medallions ordered for were delivered to the home ministry last month and one of them was promptly provided to the President Secretariat as the museum was to be inaugurated on July 25. Now we are left with four medallions," said a home ministry official requesting anonymity.
The delivery of five medallions led to feverish speculation that the Narendra Modi government may recommend more than one distinguished person for the highest civilian honour of the country.
"There is no connection between any plan of the new government to recommend names for Bharat Ratnas and the order and delivery of the five medallions as the process for procurement started during the earlier UPA regime," added the official.
According to home ministry sources, the last order, also for five Bharat Ratna medallions, was placed in 2000. Along with the medallion, a miniature medal is also given to the awardees.
When the President's Secretariat first asked for a medallion, the ministry provided it the miniature medal which was not found to be suitable for display in the museum. The Rashtrapati Bhavan asked for a normal medal which can be displayed along with medallions for Padmas, other civilian honours of the government.
"Since we were not left with any medallion in the stock, we placed order for five more Ratnas in the routine course. But little did we know that their delivery will lead such speculations," said the home ministry official.