New Delhi: Leaders cutting across party lines welcomed the announcement of Bharat Ratna for P V Narasimha Rao, Chaudhary Charan Singh and M S Swaminathan on Friday and said they deserved the honour.
Asked about the announcement, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, "I see it positively. The truth is that they should have been honoured long ago but, for the first time, a government has thought about it." He said the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) always rises above party politics while taking such decisions.
BJP leader and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also welcomed the announcement.
"I thank the prime minister. The awards have been given to people who have contributed to the country's development," he said.
Congress leader Rajeev Shukla, however, said the BJP-led Centre is honouring former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao, while it has also brought a "white paper" on the economy during the government of Manmohan Singh, who was the finance minister under Rao.
"We welcome the announcement, they deserve it. P V Narasimha Rao has made an immense contribution in improving the country's economy. Manmohan Singhji was in his cabinet. On one hand, they are giving Bharat Ratna to Narasimha Rao, on the other, they are bringing a white paper against the government of Manmohan Singh, who had implemented the economic reforms brought by Rao," Shukla said.
"Chaudhary Charan Singh was a big farmer leader and Swaminathan was a prominent agriculture scientist. We welcome the awards," he added.
Muzzaffarnagar MP Sanjeev Balyan also welcomed the announcement and said two of the three Bharat Ratna awards have been given to people who worked for farmers.
"I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modiji. Farmers across the country wanted Chaudhary Charan Singhji to get this honour. I thank him on behalf of all farmers. I also welcome the Bharat Ratna for Swaminathanji. He also worked for farmers. So two of the three Bharat Ratna awards have been dedicated to farmers," the BJP leader said.
Janata Dal (United) MP Rajeev Ranjan Singh described the recipients of the country's highest civilian honour as "gems" of India.
"They are gems of India who have been given Bharat Ratna. Not just the three names announced today, Karpuri Thakur and L K Advani, whose names were announced some days ago, all of them are gems," he said.