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Bharat Ratna for Pranab Mukherjee, Nanaji Deshmukh, Bhupen Hazarika

Instituted in 1954, Bharat Ratna has been awarded to 48 people till now, 14 of them posthumously.

SNS | New Delhi |

The NDA government on Friday announced Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award, for Bharatiya Jana Sangh ideologue Nanaji Deshmukh, eminent Assamese poet Bhupen Hazarika and former President Pranab Mukherjee.

An official statement issued by the Rashtrapati Bhavan said: “The President has been pleased to award Bharat Ratna to Nanaji Deshmukh (posthumously), Dr Bhupen Hazarika (posthumously), and former President Dr Pranab Mukherjee.”

Following the announcement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Nanaji Deshmukh’s stellar contribution towards rural development showed the way for a new paradigm of empowering those living in our villages.

“He personifies humility, compassion and service to the downtrodden. He is a Bharat Ratna in the truest sense!”

About Bhupen Hazarika, the PM posted: “The songs and music of Shri Bhupen Hazarika are admired by people across generations. From them radiates the message of justice, harmony and brotherhood.

“He popularised India’s musical traditions globally.

“Happy that the Bharat Ratna has been conferred on Bhupen Da.”

Tweeting about Pranab Mukherjee, Modi wrote: “Pranab Da is an outstanding statesman of our times.

“He has served the nation selflessly and tirelessly for decades, leaving a strong imprint on the nation’s growth trajectory.

“His wisdom and intellect have few parallels. Delighted that he has been conferred the Bharat Ratna.”

Pranab Mukherjee, a Congress veteran, became President in 2012 and was succeeded by Ram Nath Kovind in 2017.

Expressing his gratitude, Mukherjee posted on Twitter: “It is with a deep sense of humility and gratitude to the people of India that I accept this great honour #BharatRatna bestowed upon me. I have always said and I repeat, that I have got more from the people of our great country than I have given to them.”

Nanaji Deshmukh had been associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh since 1928, till his death in 2010. He was known for starting the chain of RSS inspired schools throughout India. He was one of the founding members of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, which later evolved as the Bharatiya Janta Party.

Born in 1926, Hazarika, a playback singer, lyricist, musician, singer, poet and filmmaker from Assam, had been a recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1987), Padmashri (1977), Padmabhushan (2001) and Padma Vibhushan (2012-posthumously), and the Dada Saheb Phalke Award (1992).

He died in 2011.

Hazarika had unsuccessfully contested the Guwahati Lok Sabha seat on a BJP ticket in 2004. He was an independent MLA in Assam during 1967-72.

Instituted in 1954, Bharat Ratna has been awarded to 48 people till now, 14 of them posthumously.

In 2015, the honour was conferred on former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee  and scholar and educational reformer Madan Mohan Malviya (posthumously). With three new recipients being named on Friday, the number of Bharat Ratna awarded during the present NDA regime has gone up to seven. In 2014, legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and scholar CNR Rao were conferred the honour.