New Delhi, Sep 13: Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar and BJP leader Sushma Swaraj were today conferred Outstanding Parliamentarian Awards, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rejoiced over the fact that three of them belonged to his Cabinet.
The awards were presented by President Pratibha Patil to Mr Pawar for the year 2003, Mrs Swaraj (2004), Mr Chidambaram (2005) and Mr Aiyar (2006) at a function in the Central Hall of Parliament.
Complimenting the awardees, Dr Singh said each one of them deserved the award given the important contribution they had made over the years, to the proceedings in Parliament and various walks of national life.
''They have done so both from the Treasury benches as well as from the Opposition,'' he said, vouching for the fact that they had not only contributed handsomely to the proceedings in Parliament, but also to the functioning of the government.
About Mr Pawar, the Prime Minister said he had been ''a valued colleague, an experienced and mature guide and a steadfast ally for many many years.'' Describing Mr Chidambaram as ''an extremely gifted, talented and hard working member of my Cabinet,'' he said the Finance Minister had contributed enormously to the implementation of ''our policies.'' Mr Aiyar also received handsome praise from Dr Singh. ''Mr Aiyar has been an energetic spokesman of the third tier of democracy in this first tier reminding us that decentralisation of power and development is essential for the success of our democracy.'' About Mrs Swaraj, he said the BJP leader ''is not just a vocal member of the Opposition but has also been an effective minister in the previous government.'' Dr Singh said all of them are not just good parliamentarians but also have proved to be good administrators and role models in their own rights.
Vice President Hamid Ansari, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and a number of cabinet ministers and MPs were also present on the occasion.