New Delhi, Aug 08, 2019 : Pranab Mukherjee, India’s 13th President, was honoured with the Bharat Ratna on Thursday evening at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Social activist Nanaji Deshmukh - one of the founding members of Bharatiya Jan Sangh - too was awarded Bharat Ratna, posthumously, Zee reported.
Mukherjee was presented with the award by President Ram Nath Kovind amid rapturous applause from those present for the ceremony. He had been selected for Bharat Ratna - India’s highest civilian award - in January of 2019. The announcement had been made in a statement issued by the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had already congratulated Mukherjee for his decades of service to the country. "Pranab Da is an outstanding statesman of our times. He has served the nation selflessly and tirelessly for decades, leaving a strong imprint on the nation’s growth trajectory. His wisdom and intellect have few parallels.
Born on December 11, 1935, in a Bengali family in Mirati, a village in Birbhum district in West Bengal, Mukherjee completed his Masters in Political Science and History and LLB degree from University of Calcutta. Mukherjee’s life-long political career spanned about five decades, during which he held various key posts in the Congress as well as in the governments led by Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, P V Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh.
Gandhis skip Bharat Ratna award function:
The event was attended by several dignitaries including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, veteran BJP leader LK Advani, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and others. However, the conspicuous absence of top Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi raised quite a few eyebrows. News agency ANI reported that Rahul Gandhi was invited for the event, however, the exact reason behind him skipping it was not known. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also didn’t attend the function. However, Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Janardan Dwivedi, Anand Sharma, Shashi Tharoor and Sushmita Dev were seen sitting amidst the guests.
"We congratulate former president Pranab Mukherjee for receiving the Bharat Ratna. He worked tirelessly across multiple decades to serve the people of India in multiple roles including that as Union Minister in several Congress Governments," the Congress party said on Twitter. The Bharatiya Janata Party was quick to latch on to the opportunity to corner the Congress top leadership for not ignoring the Bharat Ratna award function. "Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi didn’t attend the ceremony that awarded Bharat Ratna, among others, to long time Congressman and former President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee. Guess why?" Amit Malviya, BJP IT Cell head, said in his tweet.