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Bharat Ratna for Narasimha Rao, Charan Singh and MS Swaminathan

PM Modi, with his announcements, has made a southern connect ahead of General Election

Bharat Ratna for Narasimha Rao, Charan Singh and MS Swaminathan

Former PMs Narasimha Rao, Charan Singh and M S Swaminathan to get Bharat Ratna



Tribune News Service

Aditi Tandon

New Delhi, February 9

In yet another surprise announcement on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the government had decided to confer India's top civilian honour the Bharat Ratna on late prime ministers PV Narasimha Rao and Choudhary Charan Singh and legendary agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan.

Narasimha Rao is the second leading Congress figure after late President Pranab Mukherjee to be conferred the top honour.

The award of Bharat Ratna to Charan Singh and Swaminathan is a major move to express solidarity to leaders who powered Indian agriculture and the cause of Indian farmers.

Putting farmers first is the signal in the awards to Singh and Swaminathan at a time when farmers are again reorganising for a scheduled protest in the capital from February 13, to demand legalised MSP among other things.

"The Bharat Ratna to Chaudhary Charan Singh and MS Swaminathan exemplifies the Modi government's commitment to the agricultural sector. Both significantly championed the cause of agriculture," sources said amid a BJP and RLD pre poll Lok Sabha tie up reaching final stages. Jayant Chaudhary, the grandson of Chaudhary Charan Singh, is all set to contest the upcoming polls with the BJP.

Modi has again sought to signal bipartisanship in announcing the award for Rao, who led economic liberalisation in the early 1990s.

"Two of the awardees, Narsimha Rao and Chaudhary Charan Singh, come from non-BJP backgrounds, indicating Prime Minister Modi's belief in conferring national honors in a very party agnostic manner," sources said.

The PM with his announcements has also made a southern connect on the General Election eve.

Narasimha Rao and MS Swaminathan, hailed from South India.

"This shows the Prime Minister values the contribution and expertise from all corners of the country," official sources said.

Earlier, late Bihar CM and OBC icon Karpoori Thakur was conferred with the Bharat Ratna.

Days later, Nitish Kumar, JD (U) chief returned to the BJP led NDA fold.

Singh was the fifth prime minister of India and held the chair between July 28, 1979 and January 14, 1980.

Rao provided leadership to India at a critical juncture. Not only did he stabilise and turn around the nose diving economy in early 1990s. He also revitalised the countries foreign policy. However, in the 1996 general election, the Congress party under the leadership of then Prime Minister PVNarsimha Rao faced a major defeat, reducing its strength from 232 to 140 in the Lok Sabha. The Congress lost over 42.6% of its seats in the lower house. The BJP got 161 seats. The electoral loss was inexplicable given that it came after rouse exemplary steering of the economy through the balance of payments crisis and introduction of economic reforms. At the time alienation of the Muslims as a consequence of the barberry Masjid issue was identified as a major cause for Congress parties defeat.

Late Pranab Mukherjee in his memoirs, says "PV Narasimha Rao inability to prevent the demolition of Babri Masjid was one of his biggest failures and that had a catastrophic impact on the fortunes of the party."

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