Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and freedom fighter Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya will be awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, a Rasthrapati Bhavan communique said on Wednesday.
“The President has been pleased to award Bharat Ratna to Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (posthmously) and to Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee,” the communique said.
Vajpayee was prime minister from 1998 to 2004 and was instrumental in India’s successful test of Nuclear explosions at Pokhran in 1998 and for kicking up mega-projects like Quadrilateral National Highways project.
Atal Behari Vajpayee was born on 25 December 1924 and became the eleventh Prime Minister of India, first for 13 days in 1996 and then from 1998 to 2004. A leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he is the first Prime Minister from outside the Indian National Congress party to serve a full five-year term.
A parliamentarian for over four decades, Vajpayee was elected to the Lok Sabha nine times, and twice to the Rajya Sabha. He also served as the Member of Parliament for Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, until 2009, when he retired from active politics due to health concerns.
Vajpayee was also the founder member of erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh, which he had headed. He was also the Minister of External Affairs in the cabinet of Morarji Desai. When Janata government collapsed, Vajpayee restarted the Jana Sangh as the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1980.
He will be conferred Bharat Ratna award on Thursday, on his birthday 25 December 2014. His birthday has been declared as Good Governance Day by the present government.