March 27, 2015 :: President Pranab Mukherjee awarded Bharat Ratna [ the country’s highest civilian honour ] to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at his residence in New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with other senior Leaders of BJP were present on this Occassion
Vajpayee, a three-time Prime Minister, was the first non-Congress leader to serve a full five-year term from 1999 to 2004.
He has been credited with taking bold initiatives, notable among them being the historic bus journey to Lahore in 1999 when he signed the landmark Lahore Declaration with Nawaz Sharif, prime minister then as well, with both sides pledging to push for peace and security.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Atal Bihari Vajpayee (born 25 December 1924) is an Indian statesman who was 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 (the lower house of India’s Parliament) nine times, and twice to the Rajya Sabha (upper house). 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 one amongst the founder members of erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh, which he had also 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.
On 25 December 2014 the office of President of India announced the Bharat Ratna award, India’s highest civilian honour, to Vajpayee. His birthday, 25 December, was declared “Good Governance Day”.
Bharat Ratna (Jewel of India) is the highest civilian award of the Republic of India. Instituted on 2 January 1954, the award is conferred “in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order”, without distinction of race, occupation, position, or sex. The award was originally limited to achievements in the arts, literature, science and public services but the government expanded the criteria to include “any field of human endeavour” in December 2011. Recommendations for the Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President, with a maximum of three nominees being awarded per year. Recipients receive a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a peepal-leaf–shaped medallion; there is no monetary grant associated with the award. Bharat Ratna recipients rank seventh in the Indian order of precedence, but are constitutionally prohibited from using the award name as a title.