Bharat Ratna for Atal Bihari Vajpayee-Text of a Letter by L.K. Advani

via Press Release published on January 10, 2008

5 January, 2008
Dear Dr. Manmohan Singh Ji,

I am writing this letter in connection with the Padma Awards, which will be announced on the eve of Republic Day.

Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award, is an honour conferred upon those highly distinguished Indians who are widely acclaimed for having rendered outstanding service to the nation. Naturally, this rare tribute is given after due care and consideration to ensure that the government’s choice is universally welcomed. Precisely for this reason, Bharat Ratna is not awarded in some years if the government of the day feels that there is no suitable name before its consideration. Sadly, there have also been instances when the award was not given even when such illustrious Indians existed in our midst or when their names were suggested for posthumous recognition.

It is in this context that I would like to propose the name of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee for recognition with Bharat Ratna this year. His contribution to our national life is so varied and well-known, and sustained over such a long period, that it bears no reiteration. Nevertheless, I would like to highlight ten salient points for your consideration.

1. An outstanding parliamentarian, Shri Vajpayee also has the distinction of having the longest parliamentary life among all the living Members of Parliament.

2. He has been the Prime Minister of India thrice ¯ indeed, for the longest period after Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Smt. Indira Gandhi.

3. He is the first Prime Minister to have led a stable and successful coalition, thus disproving the myth that coalition governments cannot provide stability. He not only preached but practiced the canons of ‘Coalition Dharma’. Now that India has entered the era of coalitions, you will agree that Shri Vajpayee’s contribution has great and abiding value.

4. Shri Vajpayee strengthened India ‘s democracy both when he was in power but also when he was out of power for a much longer period. He fought against authoritarianism and suffered imprisonment during the Emergency.

5. Although a leader from the opposition ranks, he never hesitated to support the government of the day when national interests were at stake. His support to Smt. Indira Gandhi at the time of the 1971 War for the liberation of Bangladesh, to the nuclear test conducted by her government in 1974, and to economic reforms unveiled by the government of Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao (when you were the Finance Minister) are a case in point.

6. It was under Shri Vajpayee’s premiership that India became a nuclear weapons power, an act of rare courage that made Indians proud and raised the stature of India internationally.

7. It was under Shri Vajpayee’s premiership that India won the Kargil War against Pakistan.

8. It was under Shri Vajpayee’s premiership that India made sincere efforts to normalize relations with Pakistan , without, however, compromising our stand that Pakistan must stop cross-border terrorism.

9. Shri Vajpayee not only strengthened India’s national security, but also accelerated India ‘s socio-economic development. Let me mention here a few pathbreaking initiatives: the National Highway Development Project, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, and policy impetus to the IT and Telecom revolution.

10. It was under Shri Vajpayee’s premiership that the Indian Diaspora and its emotional links with Mother India received governmental attention for the first time.

Lastly, Independent India has not seen many political leaders who have commanded so much pan-Indian respect and adoration, and for such a long time, as Shri Vajpayee has. I strongly commend his case for this highest civilian award.

Regards,

Yours sincerely,

(L.K. ADVANI)

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