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President Kovind Fetes Pranab Mukherjee With Bharat Ratna: PM Modi & BJP Hail 'Jewel Of India'

A Day To Remember
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A Day To Remember

Bharat Ratna,India’s highest civilian honour is conferred on only a select veterans from various fields. The award, instituted in 1954, is given to a maximum of three people in a year 'in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour’.

The recommendations for the honour are made by the Prime Minister to the President.

The honour was last awarded in 2015.

On Thursday, the Rashtrapati Bhawan was lit with President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet of ministers in attendance for the felicitation ceremony. The president, dressed in an iconic dark-gray bandhgala, feted this year's winners - one of them being as predecessor in office, Pranab Mukherjee.

Earlier in January, the Rashtrapati Bhawan had announced the names of the awardees. In addition to the former president and Indian National Congress (INC) leader Mukherjee, the late Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Nanaji Deshmukh and late singer Bhupen Hazarika were also honoured posthumously.

Here's a peek into moments from the ceremony.

Agencies
A Glittering Guestlist
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A Glittering Guestlist

The award ceremony was attended by several ministers from the PM Modi-led NDA government. Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal were in attendance. While Shah and Modi twinned in white kurta-pyjamas and Nehru jackets, Sitharaman opted for a subtle yellow saree.

Vice President M Venkaikah Naidu, too, graced the ceremony.

However, the Gandhi family was missing at the event, though the Congress congratulated Mukherjee on Twitter for receiving the award.

Agencies
President Honouring A President
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President Honouring A President

When former first citizen of the country stepped forward in a white dhoti-kurta and Nehru jacket to receive his award, the Rashtrapati Bhawan witnessed a huge round of applause. Pranab Mukherjee, who served as the 13th president, was hailed as the 'jewel of India' at the ceremony. He became the fifth president to earn the honour.

In 1982, Mukherjee became the youngest finance minister at the age of 47. Later, in 2004, he made a mark in the external affairs, defence and finance ministers. He is also the first occupant of the Rashtrapati Bhawan to have these distinctions to his name.

Agencies
‘Proud Of You, Baba’
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‘Proud Of You, Baba’

Mukherjee's children, Abhijit and Sharmishtha, also attended the event, clapping and cheering for their father. The former president's children kept it traditional for the event. While the son twinned with his father in white dhoti and a Nehru jacket, Sharmishtha wore an off-white saree.

The proud kids took to Twitter to express their admiration for their father. Abhijit wrote, "From the remote village of Miraty, Birbhum ,West Bengal to become the "Jewel of India" , we have cherished every footsteps of him in our journey together . I pray for his long long & healthy life ahead . Proud to be your son Baba".

Agencies
In Memory Of A Veteran
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In Memory Of A Veteran

President Kovind posthumously conferred the Bharat Ratna to late BJP leader Nanaji Deshmukh. Virenderjeet Singh, Chairman of the Deendayal Research Institute and a close relative of Deshmukh, accepted the award.

Deshmukh was one of the founding members of the Bharatiya Jan Sangha, which later changed to the BJP. He was also one of the key members of the Jai Prakash Narayan's movement against the 1975 Emergency. Deshmukh, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 94, is also remembered for starting a chain of RSS-inspired schools across India.

Agencies
In Honour Of A Legendary Musician
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In Honour Of A Legendary Musician

Late legendary musician, playback singer, lyricist, singer, director and poet Bhupen Hazarika was also honoured posthumously with the Bharat Ratna. His son, Tej Hazarika, received the award from President Kovind.

A recipient of Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and Dada Saheb Phalke Award, Hazarika, who passed away in 2011, is remembered as a cultural icon. He also gave music to Bollywood films like 'Darmiyaan', 'Daman' and 'Gaja Gamini'.

Agencies
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Copyright © 2019 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service