A day after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded the Bharat Ratna for Atal Bihari Vajpayee,an array of political parties,including erstwhile BJP-ally JD(U) have extended their support to the saffron party’s call for the highest civilian honour to the former prime minister.
According to reports,the BJP found an unexpected support from former ally JD(U) on Sunday when Bihar Chief Minister said that ‘Vajpayee deserves Bharat Ratna better than anyone’.
“He deserves it. Why should not it be given to him?” Kumar,who served as railway minister in the Vajpayee cabinet,said when asked if he supported Bharat Ratna for the former prime minister.
Nitish Kumar,who is the driving force of JD(U),also made a strong case for giving the award to Rammanohar Lohia his ideological guru and Karpoori Thakur,who was chief minister of the state in 1977.
This is the first time ever since the BJP and JD(U) severed ties in June that the two parties reached any point of agreement. The Janata Dal United had broken its ties with BJP in Bihar in protest against the elevation of Narendra Modi,bringing to an end a 17-year-old alliance that had held firm through thick and thin in the national politics.
Among the other voices extending the support included Union Minister Farooq Abdullah who on Monday said Vajpayee is bigger that the award itself.
The New and Renewable Energy minister said he would make a “personal request” for bestowing the honour on Vajpayee.
“I am not a BJP man but I am an Indian and I think no one can forget that he is a fine leader,” Abdullah said on the sidelines of a blood donation camp organised by paramilitary CRPF here.
“I must tell you that the first time he talked in Lok Sabha,Jawaharlal (Nehru) jee went to him (Vajpayee) and said one day you will be the Prime Minister of this country. Nehru said this when no one could think that he would be PM one day,” he said.
Abdullah’s National Conference (NC) was a part of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) but it left the fold after the Gujarat riots.
The demands cropped after the BJP asked why India’s highest civilian honour,Bharat Ratna,has not been conferred on former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“Bharat Ratna awarded to Sachin Tendulkar and scientist CNR Rao. I congratulate them. But today I am raising a question here that why Atal Bihari Vajpayee has not been awarded Bharat Ratna? He contributed in the formation of Chhattisgarh and he was the most popular Prime Minister…,” deputy leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha,Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
On Saturday evening,the government had announced that cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and eminent scientist Professor CNR Rao have been selected for the Bharat Ratna.
(With PTI inputs)