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Cong leaders hail decision to confer Bharat Ratna on Pranab Mukherjee

twitter-logoPTI | January 25, 2019 | Updated 23:52 IST

New Delhi, Jan 25 (PTI) The Congress on Friday welcomed the decision to confer the Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award, on former president Pranab Mukherjee, saying he was "one of our own" who was being honoured for his contribution. Congratulating Mukherjee, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said he was "one of our own" who was being recognised and honoured for his immense contribution to public service and nation building. "Congratulations to Pranab Da on being awarded the Bharat Ratna. The Congress Party takes great pride in the fact that the immense contribution to public service and nation building of one of our own, has been recognised and honoured," he said on Twitter. Gandhi also expressed happiness for the Bharat Ratna being conferred on Jana Sangh leader Nanaji Deshmukh and singer Bhupen Hazarika, both posthumously. "I'm happy that Shri Bhupen Hazarika and Nanaji Deshmukh have been honoured, posthumously, with the Bharat Ratna," he tweeted. The opposition party was quick to claim that Mukherjee was a Congressman and said he stood "tallest" among those receiving the award and it was a deserving recognition of his decades of public service and notable contribution to the country. This came despite the criticism Mukherjee had to face for having visited the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) headquarters in Nagpur last year, which had caused much consternation within the Congress. A number of senior Congressmen had criticised Mukherjee publicly over his Nagpur visit. The NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to confer the Bharat Ratna on Mukherjee, a Congressman throughout his life, and put him in the league of former recipients of the award -- Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi as well as C Rajagopalachari and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, among others. "We welcome conferring the Bharat Ratna on Pranab Mukherjee. Pranabji stands tallest when it comes to the list of Bharat Ratna awardees. Not only is he a former president, he is a statesman, an intellectual and a man of ideological clarity, dedicated and committed to the same values espoused by the leaders of the freedom movement like Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. "It is a deserving recognition of his decades of public service and notable contribution. We welcome the decision to confer the Bharat Ratna on Pranab Mukherjee. He has also been a senior Congress leader, dedicated to the ideals of the freedom movement. It is the right recognition of his services and we congratulate him," Congress leader Anand Sharma said. "A moment of pride for the entire Congress family as Shri Pranab Mukherjee ji is conferred the Bharat Ratna for his immense contribution to the society and nation building, it is an honour he totally deserves. Many congratulations to him," Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi said in a tweet. The former president's daughter and Delhi Congress's chief spokesperson Sharmishta Mukherjee said, "A moment of pride and bliss for the family." 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 had also been conferred the coveted award. Expressing gratitude, Mukherjee said, "I have got more from the people of our great country than I have given to them." "It is with a deep sense of humility and gratitude to the people of India that I accept this great honour Bharat Ratna bestowed upon me. I have always said and I repeat, that I have got more from the people of our great country than I have given to them," he said in a tweet. PTI SKC RC

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