Bharat Ratna list expanding; Bhagat Singh's name proposed

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New Delhi, Jan 18 (UNI) There seems to be no end to this list as everyday a name is being proposed for the coveted Bharat Ratna.

The latest to join the race, set in motion by Leader of the Opposition L K Advani, is Shaheed Bhagat Singh, whose name was proposed by the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sewa Dal today.

The other contenders are former Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Chandra Sehkhar and Charan Singh, BSP founder Kanshi Ram, CPI(M) leader Jyoti Basu, though he denied to be in the running, veteran socialist leader and former Bihar Chief Minister Karpoori Thakur, social reformer Mahatma Jyotirao Phule, former Defence Minister and Dalit leader Jagjivan Ram, noted singer Mohammad Rafi, last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, DMK supremo M Karunanidhi, former Home Minister S B Chavan and Ma Amritananda Anandamayi or Amma as she is known across the world.

In a statement here, the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sewa Dal said many national political parties were pressing hard for the Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award, to their candidates.

''Shaheed Bhagat Singh had sacrificed his life for the freedom of the country at the age of 23 years. He was a symbol of patriotism and an inspiration for hundreds of thousands of youth of the country,'' Dal president Jitender Singh Sunny said.

The award would encourage the feeling of sacrifice and patriotism in the country as this is the centenary year of the freedom fighter, he added.

The Bharat Ratna was introduced in 1954. The first ever to receive this award was famous scientist Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman. Since then, many distinguished persons have received the coveted award.

The last time the award was jointly given to Lata Dinanath Mangeshkar and Ustad Bismillah Khan in 2001.

Former President A P J Abdul Kalam (1997), Nobel laureate Mother Teresa (real name Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu) in 1980 and two non-Indians -- Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as Frontier Gandhi, and Noble Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela (1990) -- were among the other recipients of the Bharat Ratna.

It is not mandatory that the Bharat Ratna be awarded every year.

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