Farooq, Nitish join Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee chorus - The New Indian Express

Farooq, Nitish join Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee chorus

Published: 19th November 2013 08:09 AM

Last Updated: 19th November 2013 08:09 AM

The UPA government’s farewell gift to cricketer Sachin Tendulkar in the form of the country’s top civilian award, Bharat Ratna, has sparked off an ungainly competition among politicians of all hues on who should be the 44th recipient of the award.

With popular mood in Sachin’s favour, given his iconic status, no one dared question the award for the youngest and first sports recipient, but they have given their wish-list and even announced the future recipients if they come to power.

After BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad questioned why Bharat Ratna has still eluded former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and not gone to anyone outside the dynasty, other leaders too joined the chorus.

Prominent among those who favoured Bharat Ratna for 88-year-old Vajpayee included his former coalition partners — Janata Dal’s (United) Nitish Kumar and National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah. Human Resources Development minister Pallam Raju too agreed that Vajpayee should be given the award.

The Bihar Chief Minister on Monday said, “He deserves it. Why should not it be given to him?” Kumar served as Railway Minister in the Vajpayee Cabinet.

Kumar, who has since fallen out with his political ally of 17 years, further added that he strongly supported Bharat Ratna for socialist ideologue and his guru Rammanohar Lohia and another socialist leader and former Bihar Chief Minister Karpoori Thakur.

This is the first time the BJP and JD(U) expressed solidarity on any political issue since both former allies parted ways last June following the elevation of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the party’s prime ministerial candidate.

Nitish also distanced himself from his party MP Shivanand Tiwari’s statement, the lone person who openly questioned the award for the 40-year-old cricketer instead of hockey legend Dhyan Chand.

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