New Delhi, Dec 24: Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and freedom fighter Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya will be awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, a Rasthrapati Bhavan communique said Wednesday.
"The President has been pleased to award Bharat Ratna to Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (posthmously) and to Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee," the communique said.
The Modi Government on Wednesday recommended their names to President Pranab Mukherjee.
This decision was taken in a meeting of the Union Cabinet on Wednesday morning. Media reports say that the Government may make an announcement in this regard on veteran BJP leader's birthday which is on December 25. The Government has already declared the day as 'Good Governance Day'.
While, the BJP and Shiv Sena have been demanding Bharat Ratna for former PM for the last few years, other political leader like Nitish Kumar has also supported the move.
Lauding Vajpayee, Nitish said he had liberal thinking and always respected coalition partners by keeping away divisive agendas of his party. "His personality and good lessons I learnt under him in the NDA ministry will always have an imprint on me," he said. Nitish has served as Railway and then Surface Transport Minister in the NDA rule of Vajpayee.
"Vajpayee jee should have been bestowed with Bharat Ratna during UPA government itself. I strongly support Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee jee," he told reporters emerging from Legislative Council where he is a member now," said Nitish.
The Bharat Ratna Award, instituted on January 2, 1954, is conferred "in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order", without distinction of race, occupation, position, or sex.