Former President Pranab Mukherjee received the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, from President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday. The award was also conferred on Bharatiya Jana Sangh leader Nanaji Deshmukh and legendary singer-composer Bhupen Hazarika posthumously.
Watch LIVE as President Kovind presents Bharat Ratna to Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Shri Nanaji Deshmukh (posthumously) and Dr Bhupen Hazarika (posthumously) at Rashtrapati Bhavan https://t.co/dmvFSQQGMS
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) August 8, 2019
While Bhupen Hazarika’s son Tej Hazarika received the Bharat Ratna on his behalf, chairman of Deendayal Research Institute, Virendrajeet Singh, received the award on behalf of Nanaji Deshmukh.
Born on 11 December 1935, Mukherjee served as president between 2012 and 2017. Fondly known as ‘Pranab Da’, he has been a senior leader in the Congress and had held several ministerial portfolios. He was also the finance minister from 2009-2012 under the prime ministership of Manmohan Singh.
Having dabbled in politics in 1969, Mukherjee had worked closely with former PM Indira Gandhi, becoming one of her trusted lieutenants.
Deshmukh was a Sangh Parivar veteran, founder member of the Janata Party and one of the seniormost members of the Bharatiya Janata Party. A social activist, Nanaji played an important role in carrying out the social restructuring programme in over 500 villages of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. He passed away on February 27, 2010, in Chitrakoot, at the age of 93.
Hazarika (1926-2011) was a singer and filmmaker, popularly known as Sudhakantha. He was born in Sadiya, Assam. Known for his flawless baritone and his trademark Nepali cap, he was respected nationwide, as a great balladeer and also came to be known as the ‘Bard of the Brahmaputra’.