NEW DELHI: Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the poet Prime Minister whose appeal cut across the political spectrum, will be the 45th recipient of Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award.The BJP-led government announced the award for Vajpayee and Madan Mohan Malviya, freedom fighter and founder of Banaras Hindu University, on Wednesday.
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.
By conferring the highest honour, the BJP government has added two new icons, revered in the saffron family, to the pantheon of national heroes.
Hailed as statesman, Vajpayee turns 90 on Thursday, a day being celebrated as ‘Good Governance Day’ by the government across the country. Interestingly, Malviya’s 153rd birth anniversary too falls on December 25. Malviya was a Hindu Mahasabha leader and former president of Congress in 1908 and 1919 and is better known for setting up Banaras Hindu University, which is now in PM Narendra Modi’s constituency. Malviya’s grandson Justice Girdhar Malviya (retired) was one of the proposers for Modi when he filed his nomination from Varanasi.
As President Pranab Mukherjee announced the awards, there was a deluge of reactions from political leaders, who remembered their association with the Hindi heartland politician known for his oration.
Vajpayee’s long time associate and veteran BJP leader LK Advani BJP veteran welcomed the decision. “If I was to think of all persons who had been Prime Minister and draw up a balance sheet of their achievements and shortcomings, I would think that Vajpayee was the only one with a longish tenure whose entire term was without any blemish and shortcomings,” an emotional Advani said.
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.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya is remembered as a phenomenal scholar and freedom fighter who lit the spark of national consciousness among people. Atal ji means so much to everyone. A guide, inspiration and giant among giants. His contribution to India is invaluable.” A number of senior BJP leaders visited Vajpayee, who is now ill and confined to his house.
The greetings poured in from senior leaders like West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and former Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. Congress hoped that the Modi government would follow ‘raj dharma’ (duty of the rulers) and secularism.