NEW DELHI: The centre on Friday conferred the highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, on former President Pranab Mukherjee, singer Bhupen Hazarika and social activist and late Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader Nanaji Deshmukh.
In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Mukherjee as an outstanding statesman of the time.
“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," said Modi.
The centre announced the awards marking “exceptional performance of the highest order", just a day before Republic Day.
Mukherjee, who served as the 13th president of India, is widely respected for his long political and parliamentary career. He had led decision-making during the 2004-12 period of the United Progressive Alliance government as head of numerous ministerial groups that shaped policy.
Nanaji Deshmukh, who died in February 2010, was a social activist who had worked in the fields of education, health, and rural self-reliance. He was a leader of Bharatiya Jana Sangh and the RSS, the parent body of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
Hazarika, a prominent singer, composer and lyricist known for his folk and protest songs, died in 2011.