New Delhi: Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been conferred with India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna by the President of India Pranab Mukherjee at his residence on 6 Krishna Menon Marg in New Delhi.
Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi also attended the ceremony.
Several top cabinet ministers were also present at the function.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh and finance minister Arun Jaitley also expressed their happiness at Vajpayee being conferred the Bharat Ratna. Vajpayee was the first non-Congress leader to serve India for a full five year term from 1999 to 2004.
Vajpayee is the seventh prime minister to receive the award after Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Morarji Desai, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Gulzarilal Nanda.
Earlier on Friday, speaking to reporters, the home minister said Vajpayee is not only just an Indian statesman but an international icon who is respected and loved by everyone.
“Atalji’s name evokes a sense of respect and reverence in every heart,” he said, adding that it is a matter of immense happiness for the whole country that Vajpayee is being bestowed with the Bharat Ratna.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted: “Happy that Atal Ji is being conferred Bharat Ratna today. A truly great statesman who richly deserves honour. I wish him well…”
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan tweeted his congratulations: “Heartiest congratulations to our revered mentor & beloved Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji for being conferred with ‘Bharat Ratna’ today.”
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted: “My heartfelt congratulations to Vajpayee Sahib & his family on the day he receives the Bharat Ratna. It was an honour to serve under him.”
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