Vastavam web: Former president Pranab Mukherjee, the late Bharatiya Jana Sangh leader Nanaji Deshmukh and the late singer Bhupen Hazarika were conferred the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award, on Thursday. President Ram Nath Kovind gave the award to Mukherjee, Hazarika’s son Tej and Vikramjeet Singh, a close relative of Deshmukh, at a function held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here. Hazarika and Deshmukh were given the Bharat Ratna posthumously.
Vice-President M Venkaikah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, several Union Cabinet Ministes, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal were among those present at the function held at the imposing Durbar Hall.
Mukherjee, fondly known as ‘Pranab Da’, has been the fifth president to receive this award. He was the president between 2012 and 2017. Mukherjee (83), who was also known as the quintessential ‘Man Friday’ of the Congress, joins the elite club of former presidents Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Rajendra Prasad, Zakir Hussain and V V Giri, who were also awarded the nation’s highest civilian honour. However, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi were not spotted.