India’s President Pranab Mukherjee conferred the country’s highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna, to Madan Mohan Malaviya posthumously, at the Rastrapati Bhavan (presidential house) in New Delhi. Besides being a freedom fighter, Malaviya …Read More
It was long overdue. Finally, on a befogged morning in Delhi, there was some cheering radiant news for the ailing leader-statesman as the Indian government decided to confer the country’s highest civilian honour on Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a sort of birthday gift as the iconic leader turns 90 on December 25.
A towering political personality, Mr Vajpayee, known for his dazzling oratory, formidable diplomatic skills, and political acumen, successfully led the first non-Congress government for a full five-year term. He headed the first NDA government as the 11th Prime Minister of India, first for 13 days in 1996, second time for 13 months from 1998-mid 1999, and then from 1999 to 2004.
Mr Vajpayee’s stints as the prime minister saw several path-breaking initiatives in the diplomatic arena. Vajpayee, also a former foreign minister, surprised the world by going ahead with the contentious decision to conduct the twin nuclear tests in May 1998 that made India a formal nuclear power and managed to successfully ride out international sanctions that followed through deft diplomacy.
The bestowal of Bharat Ratna on Vajpayee caps decades of a multi-hued career, and is a fitting tribute, however belated, to an outstanding politician-statesman, who is esteemed and admired by friends and detractors alike.