Former President of India and veteran Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee was presented Bharat Ratna by President Ramnath Kovind on Thursday evening.
Mukherjee was named for India’s highest civilian honour in January along with renowned musician Bhupen Hazarika and Bharatiya Jan Sangh founder Nanaji Deshmukh.
Evergreen singer-composer Dr Bhupen Hazarika was posthumously conferred the country’s highest civilian award Bharat Ratna by President Ram Nath Kovind at a glittering function at Rashtrapati Bhavan here on Thursday. The award was given to Dr Bhupen Hazarika’s son Tej Hazarika by the President. Tej Hazarika was accompanied by his wife and son, besides the extended family of the singer.
Former President of India and veteran Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee 83, served the country as its 13th President for five years from 25.05.12 and emerged in the role as a respected and admired leader whose words were heard with attention. At Rashtrapati Bhavan, Mukherjee worked with two Prime Ministers – Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi and showed a natural ease in his relationship with PM Modi who belonged to the party he had strongly opposed in his political career.
He returned to the presidential palace on Thursday evening to receive the award from President Kovind who had succeeded him. Mukherjee also greeted PM Modi after receiving the award.
The last time Bharat Ratnas were conferred in 2015, when educationalist-politician Madan Mohan Malviya and former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee were the recipients. A total of 48 Bharat Ratnas have been conferred by India since the honour was instituted in 1954 with father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi, President S Radhakrishnan and scientist CV Raman the first recipients.
The GoI’s choice had come as a surprise to many within the opposition party and beyond. PM Modi and others from the ruling coalition often cite this decision to make the point that the Congress doesn’t credit its performers unless it was from the Gandhi family. He made the same point during a discussion on a motion of thanks to the President for his address to Parliament’s joint sitting, underlining that it was his Govt that had conferred Pranab Mukherjee with the Bharat Ratna. (Agency)