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Decoding the Bharat Ratna and why it was awarded to Mukherjee, Deshmukh, Hazarika


New Delhi, Jan 26: The government on Friday announced Bharat Ratna for former president Pranab Mukherjee, late Assamese singer Bhupen Hazarika and late social activist Nanaji Deshmukh.

Bhupen Hazarika and Pranab Mukherjee

Bestowing the highest civilian honour to Pranab Mukherjee could be seen as a political move considering the fact that there has always been talk he was overlooked by the Congress for the post of Prime Minister.

Nanaji Deshmukh, Pranab Mukherjee and Bhupen Hazarika awarded Bharat RatnaNanaji Deshmukh, Pranab Mukherjee and Bhupen Hazarika awarded Bharat Ratna

Mukherjee had fallen out with the Congress leadership as there was wide speculation that he wanted to succeeded Indira Gandhi after her assassination. When Rajiv Gandhi took over, he had to leave the party. However he returned, but was overlooked for the post of PM in 2004, when Sonia Gandhi at the helm of affairs chose Dr. Manmohan Singh.

Reports also suggested that he was also not the first choice for the post of President.

Sonia Gandhi had favoured Hamid Ansari for the post, but she had to change her mind later.

The award to Mukherjee could also been seen in the context of the BJP's push in Bengal. The BJP has been focusing its resources in Bengal, where it hopes to win a large number of seats in 2019.

Who is Pranab Mukherjee? A stalwart who has seen it all in 50 yr political careerWho is Pranab Mukherjee? A stalwart who has seen it all in 50 yr political career

Mukherjee, said in a tweet, "It is with a deep sense of humility and gratitude to the people of India that I accept this great honour Bharat Ratna bestowed upon me. I have always said and I repeat that I have got more from the people of our great country than I have given to them."

The award to Hazarika comes at a time when there is a sentiment against the BJP in Assam over the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The award to Deshmukh would go down with the Hindu fraternity considering he was an RSS veteran.

The Bharat Ratna is being conferred after a gap of three years. The Modi government had last awarded the Bharat Ratna to former PM, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Banaras Hindu University founder, Madan Mohan Malviya.

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