Pranab Mukherjee, Nanaji Deshmukh and Bhupen Hazarika get Bharat Ratna

Former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee (File Photo)

Pranab Mukherjee, Former Indian President and Congress leader has been awarded the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honour. Along with Mukherjee, social activist and BJP leader Nanji Deshmukh and music maestro from Assam, Bhupen Hazarika, have been awarded posthumously.

After announcement of the award, Mukherjee got to twitter and expressed his gratitude saying he had got more from the people of India what he gave them in return. “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. #CitizenMukherjee” he tweeted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated former president on getting the highest civilian award of the country. He said that Pranab Mukherjee 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,” the PM added in his tweet.

In a political career of nearly five decades with the Congress party, Mukherjee has served different portfolios. He has served as the Finance Minister, Defence Minister and also the Foreign Minister during the UPA’s rule at the centre. He also became President of India from 2012 and 2017.

Congratulating the former president, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said his party takes great pride that Mukherjee’s contribution to public service has been recognized.

“Congratulations to Pranab Da on being awarded the Bharat Ratna! The Congress Party takes great pride in the fact that the immense contribution to public service and nation building of one of our own, has been recognised and honoured,” Gandhi tweeted.

Last year, Mukherjee had attended a function of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS, the BJP’s ideological mentor, in Nagpur that had rattled the Congress, his party of nearly 50 years. Some leaders, including Mukherjee’s daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee, had objected to his attending a function of the organisation the Congress differs ideologically with.

Social activist Nanaji Deshmukh was one of the senior-most BJP members who has also been awarded Bharat Ratna posthumously. He had played a crucial role in the social restructuring programme in 500 villages in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. He died in 2010 at the age of 93. Dr Bhupen Hazarika, a music maestro from Assam is a recipient of Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Padmashri and Padmabhushan. He was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second-highest civilian honour, in 2012. He died in November 2011 at the age of 85.

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