After senior BJP leader LK Advani, former Prime Ministers PV Narasimha Rao and Chaudhary Charan Singh, and eminent agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan will be conferred with the highest civilian award ‘Bharat Ratna’.
Hailing from Warangal district of Telangana, Narasimha Rao was the first Congress Prime Minister outside the Gandhi family, from 1991 to 1996, and is widely acknowledged for heralding the economic liberalisation of India.
Much before Rao, Charan Singh was the PM though for a brief period, from July 28, 1979, to January 14, 1980. The tall Jat leader is remembered as a champion of workers and farmers’ rights, while renowned scientist Swaminathan is considered as the architect of India’s Green Revolution. All of them would be getting the Bharat Ratna posthomously.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced this on social media ‘X’: “Delighted to share that our former Prime Minister, Shri PV Narasimha Rao Garu, will be honoured with the Bharat Ratna”.
“As a distinguished scholar and statesman, Narasimha Rao Garu served India extensively in various capacities. He is equally remembered for the work he did as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Union Minister, and as a Member of Parliament and Legislative Assembly for many years. His visionary leadership was instrumental in making India economically advanced, laying a solid foundation for the country’s prosperity and growth,” he wrote.
Modi also recalled that Rao’s tenure as the PM was marked by significant measures that opened India to global markets, fostering a new era of economic development. “Furthermore, his contributions to India’s foreign policy, language and education sectors underscore his multifaceted legacy as a leader who not only steered India through critical transformations but also enriched its cultural and intellectual heritage,” he observed.
Similarly, Modi in a separate post on X, which he wrote in Hindi, praised Charan Singh for dedicating his entire life to the rights of farmers and their welfare. “It is the good fortune of our government that former Prime Minister of the country Chaudhary Charan Singh is being honoured with Bharat Ratna. This honour is dedicated to his incomparable contribution to the country. He had dedicated his entire life to the rights and welfare of farmers,” the PM wrote in his appreciation.
“Be it the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh or the Home Minister of the country and even as an MLA, he always gave impetus to nation-building. He also stood firm against the Emergency. His dedication to our farmer brothers and sisters and his commitment to democracy during the Emergency is inspiring to the entire nation,” PM Modi stated.
Singh was a Congress member through much part of his political life but founded his own political party Lokdal in 1980. The breakaway faction of Lokdal, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), which was formed by his son Ajit Singh, is trying to tie-up with the BJP ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The BJP leaders attacked Congress for denying Rao Bharat Ratna despite his significant contribution to India which, they stressed, the Modi government realised.
Asked about government’s announcement to confer Rao with the Bharat Ratna, former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi breifly responded outside Parliament; “I welcome them... why not?” Rao’s daughter and BRS MLC Vani Devi on Friday appreciated the gesture of honouring her father with the highest civilian award, and said, “beyond parties, recognising PV and conferring Bharat Ratna shows the good values, manners of our Prime Minister (Modi)“.
On Swaminathan, Modi eulogised his “visionary leadership” which he stated, has not only transformed Indian agriculture but also ensured the nation’s food security and prosperity. “It is a matter of immense joy that the Government of India is conferring the Bharat Ratna on Dr. MS Swaminathan Ji, in recognition of his monumental contributions to our nation in agriculture and farmers’ welfare. He played a pivotal role in helping India achieve self-reliance in agriculture during challenging times and made outstanding efforts towards modernizing Indian agriculture. We also recognise his invaluable work as an innovator and mentor and encouraging learning and research among several students. Dr. Swaminathan’s visionary leadership has not only transformed Indian agriculture but also ensured the nation’s food security and prosperity. He was someone I knew closely and l always valued his insights and inputs,” he said on X.