Atal Bihari Vajpayee conferred with Bharat Ratna
NEW DELHI: Veteran Parliamentarian
and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, founder member of BJP who is
held in high esteem across the political spectrum, was on Friday conferred with
Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award, by President Pranab
In a departure from protocol, Mukherjee
drove to Vajpayee’s residence at Krishna Menon Marg in Lutyens’ Delhi and
presented to the ailing BJP leader the prestigious award, the country’s highest
The event, which was attended by Vice
President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath
Singh along with some close family members, was kept away from the media glare.
Vajpayee, a three-time Prime
Minister, was the first non-Congress leader to serve a full five-year term from
1999 to 2004.
He has been credited with taking bold
initiatives, notable among them being the historic bus journey to Lahore in
1999 when he signed the landmark Lahore Declaration with Prime Minister Nawaz
Sharif with both sides pledging to push for peace and security.
Later, a tea party was hosted in the
lawns of the residence which was attended by union ministers and state Chief
Ministers including Jammu and Kashmir’s Mufti Mohammed Sayeed.
The announcement for a Bharat Ratna
for Vajpayee, the first Prime Minister from outside the Congress party to serve
a full five-year term, came on December 24, a day before he turned 90.
Vajpayee’s detractors called him the
“mask” of RSS but still always had good words for him.
Regarded as one of the most
charismatic leaders, he was lauded as a statesman politician whose
acceptability across the board broke barriers and brought BJP to centre stage
of politics in the late 1990s after the demolition of Babri Masjid.