Mar 272015

Atal Bihari VajpayeeVajpayee is lauded as a statesman and has been often described as the moderate face of BJP. Photo:PTIFormer Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and founder member of Bharatiya Janta Party will be conferred Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award today.

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President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be among a host of VVIPs who are likely to be present at the Krishna Memon marg residence of Vajpayee in Lutyens’ Delhi where he will be honoured.

The announcement for the prestigious award for Vajpayee, the first Prime Minister from outside the Congress party to serve a full five-year term, came on December 24, a day before he turned 90.

Vajpayee, who was Prime Minister from 1998 to 2004, and has faded from public life due to age-related illness, is lauded as a statesman and has been often described as the moderate face of BJP.

He has been credited with taking bold initiatives, notable among them being the historic bus journey to Lahore in 1999 when he signed the landmark Lahore Declaration with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with both sides pledging to push for peace and security.

Vajpayee’s detractors called him the “mask” of RSS but still always had good words for him.

The recommendation for Bharat Ratna is made by the Prime Minister himself to the President.

Since its inception, 43 people including former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bhadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi besides singing legend Lata Mangeshkar and the batting mastreo have received the prestigious award.

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