On his 87th birthday, BJP makes case for awarding Bharat Ratna to Vajpayee

via Pioneer News Service | New Delhi published on December 26, 2010

As former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee turned 87 on Saturday, BJP leaders made an emotive request to the UPA Government to confer on him the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award.

The party said Vajpayee is “symbol of acceptability” who promoted a “greater sense of brotherhood”. “It would be great if the Government decides to adorn him with Bharat Ratna,” BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy told reporters here on Saturday.

Former BJP chief Rajnath Singh said, “The country can never forget Vajpayee’s contribution to parliamentary democracy,” adding, “Therefore, I humbly request the Government to honour him with the Bharat Ratna.”

Earlier, leaders from across the political spectrum made beeline outside his residence at Krishna Menon Marg to greet the ailing patriarch.

Prominent among those who called on Vajpayee include senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh, Jaswant Singh, Shahnawaz Hussain, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and others.

In Vajpayee’s erstwhile Lok Sabha constituency Lucknow, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley lauded the veteran politician for his contribution to the country’s politics and development. “Vajpayeeji gave a direction to nationalist ideology of the BJP and became its voice and face,” Jaitley said during a function held on the occasion.

He said Vajpayee started a new trend in politics and introduced the world to the political maturity of the country. “All through he kept the interest of humanity in mind, while discharging different tasks and this put him into a different league,” he said, while appealing to BJP workers to follow both his style of functioning.

In New Delhi, Jaswant expressed his “sense of gratitude” to Vajpayee and to the party for having given him the opportunity to serve the country under him. “That has been the greatest period of my life,” Singh said. He, however, expressed concern about Vajpayee’s health, saying his “health is of course under strain”.

Shahnawaz Hussain described Vajpayee as a “living legend” and “tallest leader” in Asia and requested everyone to rise above party lines to support him for the honour (Bharat Ratna) as “there is no bigger leader than him today”.

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