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Bharat Ratna for Atal, Netaji, Kanshi Ram?

Bharat Ratna for Atal, Netaji, Kanshi Ram?
Highlights

Bharat Ratna for Atal, Netaji, Kanshi Ram, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is heading the BJP-led government now, would take a call on this and probably announce it in his Independence Day speech.

PM may announce it in his I-Day speech

Netaji Subhas Chandra BoseNew Delhi: Speculation is rife that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, along with Bahujan Samaj Party founder Kanshi Ram, may be named for the country's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna.

The speculation has been fuelled by the Home Ministry placing an order for five Bharat Ratna medallions. BJP leaders have in the past demanded Bharat Ratna be awarded to Vajpayee.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is heading the BJP-led government now, would take a call on this and probably announce it in his Independence Day speech. Generally Padma awards and the Bharat Ratna are announced on the eve of the Republic Day. But for Bharat Ratna there are exceptions.

A senior Home Ministry official said that four days back the government mint had been asked to make five medallions of Bharat Ratna. "But ordering five medallions does not mean that five persons will be bestowed with Bharat Ratna. This is to keep adequate number of medallions in reserve," he said. Besides, the government's rule for Bharat Ratna is clear that the number of annual awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year.

Kanshi RamThe recommendation for Bharat Ratna is made by the Prime Minister himself to the President. No formal recommendation for this is necessary. The Bharatiya Janata Party has long been demanding the nation's highest civilian honour for one of their tallest leaders, Vajpayee, who became the first person from the party to occupy the top post of the country. They had raised the issue when in November last year cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and eminent scientist CNR Rao were given the highest civilian award. Senior BJP leader and former Deputy PM of India LK Advani had written to the then PM Manmohan Singh in 2008 to present the award to Vajpayee.

But the UPA government never short-listed him. Vajpayee has been unwell for some years now and is not seen in public. Modi had said last year that the Congress had bestowed the honour on Nehru-Gandhi family members (Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi) while delaying giving the award to India's first home minister and 'Iron Man' Sardar Vallabhai Patel. He had also said that BR Ambedker had got the Bharat Ratna only when a BJP backed government came to power in Delhi, years after his death. The name of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) founder Madan Mohan Malaviya and Hockey wizard Dhyan Chand are also doing the rounds. He also served as its vice-chancellor. He was involved with the Hindu Mahasabha, while also being the president of the Congress.

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