The family of former President Pranab Mukherjee welcomed the government’s decision to confer the Bharat Ratna – India’s highest civilian honour – on the Congress veteran.
A day after Mukherjee was conferred with the prestigious honour, his daughter Sharmishta Mukherjee told reporters that the achievement marks the long journey of her illustrious father.
“My father (Dr Pranab Mukherjee) started his journey from a very remote village of Bengal,” she said referring to Mirati, a remote village in West Bengal’s Bolpur where Mukherjee was born and still visits.
“There was no development, roads, electricity. He had to travel for 10 kilometres every day to go to school. From there to achievement of Bharat Ratna – it’s a very long journey,” Sharmishtha Mukherjee, who is the president of the Delhi Mahila Congress, added.
Earlier today, the former President’s son, Abhijit, said he is proud as a son and thankful to the government for bestowing the honour on his father.
“It is a very good feeling. I feel very proud as a son. He (Dr Pranab Mukherjee) has been in public life for 50 years and served India in various capacities. We are thankful to the people of India and the government,” Abhijit Mukherjee, who is a Congress MP from Jangipur in Bengal, said.
The 83-year-old former President said today that he spoke to President Ram Nath Kovind and conveyed his appreciation.
He also reiterated that his belief that he has received more from the people and the country than he has given.
“I would like to express my deep gratitude to the people of this country. I always said, & I repeat, that in my public life I’ve received much more from the people & from this country than I’ve given to it,” he said.
“But at the same time, with all humility, I accept this honour. I have conveyed my appreciation by talking to the President of the Republic,” Mukherjee, who served as the 13th President of India, was quoted as saying by ANI.
Mukherjee became President in 2012 and was succeeded by President Kovind in 2017.
Besides Mukherjee, the government also conferred the Bharat Ratna on RSS stalwart Nanaji Deshmukh and Assamese singer Bhupen Hazarika. Both Deshmukh and Hazarika are being honoured posthumously.
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 five.