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India’s 13th President and Congress’ senior most leaders Pranab Mukherjee has been awarded the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honour along with Bharatiya Jana Sangh leader Nanaji Deshmukh and legendary singer-composer Bhupen Hazarika posthumously.

Mukherjee, reacting to the honour, said he has always received more from the people of the country than he has given them. “It is with a deep sense of humility and gratitude to the people of India that I accept this great honour #BharatRatna 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. #CitizenMukherjee (sic)” he tweeted.

Among the very first to congratulate the awardees was Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He tweeted to say that Pranab Mukherjee is an “outstanding statesman of our times.”

“He has served the nation selflessly and tirelessly for decades, leaving a strong imprint on the nation’s growth trajectory. His wisdom and intellect have few parallels. Delighted that he has been conferred the Bharat Ratna,” the PM tweeted for the former president.

While Congress President Rahul Gandhi tweeted-

“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.”

Nanaji Deshmukh

Among the other two recipients of the Bharat Ratna this year, social activist Nanaji Deshmukh was one of the senior-most BJP members. He also played a crucial role in the social restructuring programme in 500 villages in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Deshmukh also took part in Jai Prakash Narayan movement during the Emergency.

Deskmukh was also the general secretary of the RSS’ political branch, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, which was dissolved in 1977.

He was awarded Padma Vibhushan in 1999.He died in 2010 at the age of 93.

Bhupen Hazarika

Bhupen Hazarika, a music maestro from Assam is a recipient of Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Padmashri and Padmabhushan. Hazarika was also a member of the Central Board of Film Certification.

He was also one of the leading author-poets of Assam with more than 1,000 lyrics and several short stories, essays and travelogues to his credit.

In 2003, he was appointed member of the Prasar Bharati Board. In May 2017, PM Modi named India’s longest bridge after Bhupen Hazarika.

He was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second-highest civilian honour, in 2012. He died in November 2011 at the age of 85.

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