Mayawati suggests Kanshiram name for Bharat Ratna, supports Atal

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Lucknow, Jan 12 (UNI) While not opposing the names of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and CPI (M) patriarch Jyoti Basu for the coveted Bharat Ratna, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and BSP president Mayawati today stressed that the name of party founder Kanshiram should not be ignored for the highest civilian award.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ms Mayawati said while she supported the names of Mr Vajpayee and former West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu for the top honour, she reminded him about the contributions made by the late Kanshiram towards Dalits uplift.

''He spent his entire life for their cause,'' the letter -- copies of which were distributed to the media today -- said.

''The credit for the honourable life the Dalits are leading today goes to Kanshiram and the honour to him would be the honour to the people of the country ,'' she said in the letter.

To a question on her ''singular'' choice for Bharat Ratna other than Kanshiram, the Chief Minister said she would reply to it if asked by the Centre.

The Bharat Ratna issue today took a new twist with Ms Mayawati joining the chorus by demanding that the top national honour be conferred on Dalit idealogue Kanshiram.

Ms Mayawati pushed forward the demand a day after CPI(M) advocated the name of Jyoti Basu for the honour.

The demand for political honour of Bharat Ratna started after Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha L K Advani shot off a missive to the Prime Minister urging him to consider Mr Vajpayee for the award.

Claiming the contribution of Kanshiram for the uplift and empowerment of Dalits in the country was no less valuable than the names of the leaders already raised in the race for the award, Ms Mayawati argued that he was the fittest case for the honour.

UNI MB/SB NAB HS RS1836

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