Former President Pranab Mukherjee has received the highest civilian award of India, ‘Bharat Ratna’, from his successor President Ram Nath Kovind. The prestigious award ceremony was held at the Rashtrapati Bhawan on Thursday, which was attended by top leaders, including Minister Narendra Modi, who summoned him as the “outstanding statesman of our times” when the names of recipients were recipients were declared in January.
Two others have received the award but ‘Posthumously’ – iconic singer Nanaji Deshmukh and Bhupen Hazarika. Mr. Deshmukh is one of the founding members of Bharatiya Jan Sangh, which later joined the BJP.
Pranab Mukherjee’s tenure as the President of India, which is a post facilitated by Congress, ended in 2017.
However, the top leader, who has dubbed himself as ‘Citizen Mukherjee’ after stepped down, had made headlines, most remarkable in 2018 with his controversial decision to participate in an event of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological mentor of the center-ruling BJP.
The 83-year-old Pranab Mukherjee has served as one of the most veteran ministers in Congress-led Governments headed by former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi, Narasimha Rao, and Manmohan Singh.
Mr. Mukherjee’s closeness to the Gandhi family and his abilities to get opposition parties to the discussion table during difficult impasses, made him as one of the most repudiated politicians across the party lines.
Many considered the former President of India as the sharpest mind in Manmohan Singh-led Cabinet, with a deep understanding of Indian economy, politics, and strategic issues.
As the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee had been a model of constitutional propriety. He has also managed to speak his mind on contentious as well as divisive issues.
After coming to office, PM Modi had acknowledged him a number of times as a mentor. Both had shared a cordial relation, which was reflected in their warm praise of each other when he stood down from India’s highest office.
In a Twitter Posts, PM Modi had congratulated Mr. Mukherjee after receiving ‘Bharat Ratna’ – recommended by Modi Government – was announced. His post reads, “Pranab Da is an outstanding statesman of our times. He has served the nation selflessly and tirelessly for decades, leaving a strong imprint on the nation’s growth trajectory. His wisdom and intellect have few parallels. Delighted that he has been conferred the Bharat Ratna.”