President Murmu confers Bharat Ratna on L K Advani


PTI, Mar 31, 2024, 5:32 PM IST

President Droupadi Murmu conferred Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honour, on BJP stalwart and former deputy prime minister L K Advani at his residence here on Sunday.

The ceremony was attended by Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah and the family members of Advani, the Rashtrapati Bhavan said in a post on X.

Prime Minister Modi sat next to Advani as the President honoured the veteran leader with Bharat Ratna.

Modi said on X that it was very special to witness the conferring of the Bharat Ratna on Advani and this honour is a recognition of his enduring contributions to the nation’s progress.

”His dedication to public service and his pivotal role in shaping modern India have left an indelible mark on our history. I am proud to have got the opportunity to work with him very closely over the last several decades,” the prime minister said.

The Rashtrapati Bhavan described Advani as a doyen of Indian politics and said that he has served the nation with unwavering dedication and distinction for over seven decades. As a parliamentarian, his emphasis on dialogue enriched parliamentary traditions, it said.

Whether as home minister or as deputy prime minister, Advani always prioritised national interest above all, earning him respect and admiration from across party lines, it said in a series of posts on X.

”His long and tireless struggle for India’s cultural regeneration culminated in the reconstruction of Shri Ram Temple in Ayodhya in 2024,” it said.

Among the handful of post-Independence political leaders who succeeded in reshaping the national agenda and placing it on the path of development, Advani’s accomplishments provide the best articulation of the genius of India and its inclusive traditions, the Rashtrapati Bhavan said and shared pictures of the ceremony on X.

Born in Karachi (now in Pakistan) in 1927, Advani migrated to India in 1947 during Partition.

The 96-year-old BJP stalwart served as deputy prime minister from June 2002 to May 2004 and as Union home minister from October 1999 to May 2004. He was BJP president multiple times — from 1986 to 1990, 1993 to 1998, and 2004 to 2005.

The Rashtrapati Bhavan said that with his vision of cultural nationalism, Advani toiled hard for decades, across the length and breadth of the country and brought about a transformation in the socio-political landscape.

”When Emergency put India’s democracy at risk, the indefatigable crusader in him helped guard it against authoritarian tendencies,” it said in the post.

As the information and broadcasting minister in the Janata Party government (1977-79), Advani was instrumental in the restoration of democracy by dismantling the Emergency’s antidemocratic legal edifice, reads the profile of the veteran leader shared by the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

His contribution at the time was as intellectually inspiring, as politically impactful.

A high point in Advani’s political life came when he spearheaded the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in the late 1980s and laid the foundation for the revival of cultural nationalism.

”His struggle culminated in the reconstruction of the magnificent Shri Ram temple in Ayodhya in 2024, thus fulfilling the decades-old aspirations of countless Indians,” it said.

During his tenure as India’s home minister, Advani brought about the most comprehensive reforms in India’s national security system. He took a pro-active and uncompromising approach to counter cross-border terrorism and made sincere as well as consistent efforts to bring peace in Kashmir.

His emphasis on harmonious centre-state relations resulted in the carving out of three new states — Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand.

Advani’s eventful political life will be remembered for his determined and diligent pursuit of core enduring ideals such as the defence of democracy, cultural nationalism and clean politics, according to the profile of the veteran leader shared by the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

During his fight against Emergency (1975-77), Advani spent 19 months in Bangalore’s central jail.

His book A Prisoner’s Scrap-Book (1977) is praised globally as one of the best works of prison literature, the profile stated, adding that Advani has always set exemplary standards in political ethics.

Regarded as a statesman who combines intellectualism, integrity and mass appeal, Advani has been an avid reader and a prolific writer. For his exceptional service in public life, Advani was conferred Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second-highest civilian award, in 2015.

This year, the government announced five Bharat Ratna awards — one to Advani and four posthumously to former prime ministers P V Narasimha Rao and Chaudhary Charan Singh, agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan and two-time former Bihar chief minister Karpoori Thakur.

Rao, Singh, Swaminathan and Thakur’s kin received the award from the president on Saturday at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

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