CHENNAI: The demand for according Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of Government of India, on the late president of DMK and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M Karunanidhi, is getting stronger with leaders of more political parties supporting it. This is the second demand from Tamil Nadu for according Bharat Ratna on politicians within two years. Just after the death of late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, AIADMK demanded that the honour be conferred on her, listing her achievements.
The State cabinet adopted a resolution urging the Centre to confer the highest civilian award on her and sought permission for unveiling her life-size bronze statue in Parliament complex. Though the State government reminded the Centre about this demand on a few occasions, the Centre is yet to respond to it. The demand for according Bharat Ratna on Karunanidhi was first made by VCK president Thol Thirumavalavan just after the DMK leader’s death. DMK MP Tiruchy N Siva took it up in Rajya Sabha on Friday which was supported by Congress and many other parties.
When asked about DMK’s next move on this demand, Siva told Express that “We have the support of many parties in Parliament for according this honour on our late leader. I am confident the Central government will take cognisance of this demand and do the needful at the earliest.”On Saturday, MDMK general secretary Vaiko too urged the Central government to accord this highest civilian award on Karunanidhi as he was fit for it on every count. Giving a long list of achievements of Karunanidhi in various fields, Vaiko said beyond Tamil Nadu, the leader was loved by one and all and as such, the Centre should accord this honour on him.
Political analyst Tharasu Shyam says “Just on two counts the Centre should accord Bharat Ratna on Karunanidhi - First, the social reforms as well as social welfare measures initiated by him were emulated by many other States. Second, he would be an inspiration to the younger generation because born in a village without any big economic background, Karunanidhi rose to great heights just because of his own individual skills and leadership qualities. Being the head of a regional political party, he played a key role in national political developments, including the election of Prime Ministers on many occasions. So, the Centre should accord this honour on him.”
DMK sources said the executive committee meeting of the party scheduled for August 14 or the general council meeting to be held very soon would adopt a resolution urging the Centre to accord Bharat Ratna on Karunanidhi. It is interesting to note that, of the 45 personalities who have been awarded Bharat Ratna during the past 64 years since its inception in 1954, seven personalities - i.e., nearly one-sixth of the total number of awardees were from Tamil Nadu. Significantly, the first two recipients of this highest civilian award were from Tamil Nadu - Rajaji and Sir CV Raman (both given the award in 1954). The other personalities who were accorded this honour were: K Kamaraj, MG Ramachandran, APJ Abdul Kalam, MS Subbulakshmi and C Subramaniam. After 1998, for the past 20 years, no one had been chosen from Tamil Nadu for the award.
The first President Rajendra Prasad ordered establishing Bharat Ratna award on January 2, 1954. Concept of awarding this award posthumously was not there in the original statute. That is why Mahatma Gandhi was not accorded this award. Provision to award posthumously was finally added in January 1966. In 1992, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was posthumously accorded this honour but was withdrawn after there were legal issues raising the question as to whether he was dead or alive. It was the first ever case of withdrawal of the award since it was established.
Further, PILs were filed in Supreme Court as well as in many high courts seeking to award this highest award on Mahatma Gandhi. However, the courts disposed these petitions stating that the Mahatma was above all and this issue should not be raised. When it was decided to confer Bharat Ratna on cricket player Sachin Tendulkar an activist complained to Election Commission that it would be a violation of code of conduct of the elections. He said since Sachin had been nominated as an MP from Congress, if Bharat Ratna were to be conferred on him, it would influence the ongoing voting process in many northern States. However, EC rejected the complaint.