Mumbai, Dec 19: Rail activist Bipin Gandhi has demanded Bharat Ratna for NCP President and former Union Minister Sharad Pawar in recognition of his "distinctive contributions" to social-political spheres of the country and eminent positions he held during his decades-long career.
Gandhi has written letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister Rajnath Singh, demanding that the veteran politician, who turned 75 this month, be bestowed the country's highest civilian award.
Gandhi, who has won accolades for bringing passenger- friendly changes in a bogie of Panchavati Express, is President of Rail Parishad, an NGO that works for the welfare of train passengers.
The activist has drawn attention to Modi's effusive praise for Pawar for his political acumen and contributions at a function organised in New Delhi to celebrate his birthday last week. Pawar, who has "made distinctive contributions" in social-political arenas, richly deserves the top honour.
"We were delighted by your (PM's) praise (for Pawar) which came from the bottom of your heart. It is said that only a person with virtues can recognise virtues in others.
"You effusively praised Pawar's efforts to control a very tense situation in Mumbai after the bomb blasts in 1993 (as Chief Minister). One can visualise what could have been the impact on the nation if there was even a slight delay in controlling the situation," Gandhi said in the letters.
His letters listed the various important positions held by Pawar throughout his political life. "These actions and contributions are enough for Pawarji to be bestowed with the Bharat Ratna," the activist said. Rail Parishad hit the headlines when a bogie of Panchavati Express, a superfast train that connects Mumbai with Manmad, was declared an "ideal coach" for passengers and found a mention in the `Limca Book of Records'.