NEW DELHI: Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and freedom fighter Madan Mohan Malaviya would be conferred with Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government made this announcement a day before the birth anniversaries of both the leaders - Vajpayee was born in 1924 and Malaviya in 1861.
The government had earlier declared December 25 as "Good Governance Day."
President Pranab Mukherjee has given approval to the government's request.
"President Mukherjee has been pleased to award Bharat Ratna to Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (posthumously) and to Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee," Rashtrapati Bhawan tweeted.
#PresidentMukherjee has been pleased to award Bharat Ratna to Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (posthumously) and to Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.— President of India (@RashtrapatiBhvn) December 24, 2014
AB Vajpayee - A Statesman Politician
One of India's most charismatic leaders, Atal Bihari Vajpayee is lauded as a statesman politician whose acceptability across the board broke barriers pitchforking the BJP to centrestage of politics in the late 90s.
It was Vajpayee's sway that brought new allies to BJP, then considered a virtual untouchable in view of its rightist leanings, especially after demolition of Babri Masjid, in 1998.
An orator par excellence and known for taking bold initiatives, notable being the attempt to bridge Indo-Pak differences, Vajpayee reached far beyond his BJP's nationalist political agenda.
The decision to honour Vajpayee and Malaviya was taken at a meeting held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his cabinet colleagues and top party leaders in New Delhi.
Union ministers including Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh and BJP President Amit Shah attended the meeting.
Calling it a matter of delight, Narendra Modi said country's highest honour to these illustrious stalwarts is a fitting recognition of their service to the Nation.
Vajpayee will be the first BJP leader to be honoured with this award. Sources said Modi is likely to meet Vajpayee at his residence in Varanasi.
Earlier, backing Vajpayee's name for the award, senior BJP leader LK Advani had said: "A Bharat Ratna for Atal Bihari Vajpayee should not be seen in terms of a reward for doing his duty but as an award that recognises his stature."
"Though from the point of view of Bharat Ratna, I don't think Bharat Ratna is appropriate as a reward for something that Vajpayee has contributed to the country. Whatever he has done, he has been doing his duty both as a patriot as well as the person assigned for the responsibility of becoming the prime minister of the country," Advani had said.
Madan Mohan Malviya a Congress Loyalist, Patriot
A multifaceted personality, Madan Mohan Malviya, who was conferred the Bharat Ratna today along with former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was an educationist who founded the Banaras Hindu University and became one of the torchbearers of the freedom struggle acting as a bridge between the Moderates and the Extremists.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday welcomed the Centre's decision to confer 'Bharat Ratna' on Vajpayee, saying "we all love and respect Vajpayeeji."
Outgoing Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had also backed the demand while saying the previous UPA government should have conferred the honour on the former Prime Minister.