Atal Bihari Vajpayee may have turned down the idea of being conferred Bharat Ratna when he was himself Prime Minister, but on Friday president Pranab Mukherjee took a departure from protocol by driving down to the ailing BJP leader’s house to present to him the highest civilian award.

School students in Mirzapur congratulate former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on receiving the Bharat Ratna on Friday

PTI
Atal Bihari Vajpayee may have turned down the idea of being conferred Bharat Ratna when he was himself Prime Minister, but on Friday president Pranab Mukherjee took a departure from protocol by driving down to the ailing BJP leader’s house to present to him the highest civilian award.The simple event, at which there were no speeches, was attended by around fifty people, all of whom have known Vajpayee, and close family members. Among them were Vice President Hamid Ansari, prime minister Narendra Modi, BJP veteran LK Advani, senior cabinet ministers, some chief ministers, including Jammu and Kashmir’s Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and senior leaders of other parties.”There are crores of workers around the country who draw inspiration from Atalji. We got an opportunity to confer Bharat Ratna on Atalji who dedicated his life to the nation, he’s a son of mother India. I thank the president for personally conferring the Bharat Ratna to Atal Bihari Vajpayee,” Modi said.Finance minister Arun Jaitley described him as a leader par excellence who has worked tirelessly in the interest of the nation. “In this country, I think there would be very few people like him who are good orator, political leader, thinker and poet,” he said.All those present at the ceremony at his residence at Krishna Menon Marg, had fond memories of him as statesman, prime minister and human being. Yashwant Sinha, who was a senior minister in Vajpayee government, recalled how during official tours he would make sure that he had at least one informal meal with some people in the delegation. “He loved Chinese food so it would often be to a Chinese restaurant,” recalled Sinha who described him as a “great man and a great prime minister.”Home minister Rajnath Singh described Vajpayee as an “international icon”.Even Opposition leaders endorsed his leadership. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, in a letter to Vajpayee, said it was a “fitting recognition” to his wisdom, statesmanship and deep commitment to national interest. “Your broad and large hearted vision, your patriotism and eloquent oratory have always embraced the entire political spectrum and all sections of our society,” she said.

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Bharat Ratna conferred on ailing Atal Bihari Vajpayee