The government of India released 112 names for the Padma awards out of which there were 4 Padma Vibhushan, 14 Padma Bhushans and 94 Padma Shri. 3 were awarded the Bharat Ratna out of which the surprise pick is former President Pranab Mukherjee, a Congressman all his life, for the Bharat Ratna, country's highest civilian honour, along with Nanaji Deshmukh, one of the founders of BJP and eminent Assamese poet and musician Bhupen Hazarika, choices that were perceived to be made with an eye on the coming Lok Sabha elections.
Bharat Ratna: Highest Civilian Award Of India
"The President has been pleased to award Bharat Ratna to the following: Shri Nanaji Deshmukh (posthumously), Dr Bhupen Hazarika (posthumously) and Shri Pranab Mukherjee," a Rashtrapati Bhawan press communique said. The last time the highest civilian honour was conferred was on former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya (posthumously) in 2015, the Rashtrapati Bhawan said in a press communique on the eve of 70th Republic Day. So far 45 eminent personalities have been conferred with the Bharat Ratna and the total goes up to 48 with Friday's announcement.
Padma Vibhushan: Second Highest Civilian Award Of India
Including industry veteran A.M. Naik of L&T group, President of Djibouti Ismail Guelleh, who extended support for rescuing Indians from war hit Yemen, folk singer Teejan Bai and Marathi theatre legend B.M. Purandare for the second highest civilian honour Padma Vibhushan.
Padma Bhushan: Third Highest Civilian Award Of India
Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Kariya Munda, Malayalam actor Mohan Lal, late journalist Kuldeep Nayyar, S Nambi Narayanan, the space scientist who was jailed on trumped-up espionage charges, mountaineering personality Bechandri Pal, former CAG V.K. Shunglu and BJP MP Hukum Dev Narayan Yadav for Padma Bhushan awardees.
Padma Shri: Fourth Highest Civilian Award Of India
In the Padma Shri category, Sikh riot activist H.S. Phoolka, former Akali Dal minister S.S. Dhinsha, author Gita Mehta, who is also the sister of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, former Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, actors Manoj Bajpayee, Prabhu Deva, late Kader Khan, singer Shankar Mahadevan, cricketer Gautam Gambhir, football player Sunil Chhetri, eminent surgeon Sandeep Guleria have been picked. In all 94 personalities were picked in the Padma Shri category, that also included Telugu Lyricist Sirivennela Sitaramasastry from Andhra Pradesh, wrestler Bajrang Punia, archery expert B.D. Laishram and spiritual personality Bangaru Adigalar of Tamil Nadu.
Bottom Line: Awards List Targets The LS Polls 2019
The choice of Mukherjee, who hails from West Bengal and the late Hazarika, an eminent son of Assam, is in tune with the BJP's mission of cornering a good chunk of seats in the East and the northeastern parts of the country where the Citizenship Amendment Bill has created problems for the BJP. Mukherjee's choice also indicates that he could still play a political role after the Lok Sabha elections in case of a hung Parliament.
Mukherjee (84), who reached new heights in his political career as a Congressman, had also stirred controversy last year when he attended an RSS event at its Nagpur headquarters. Hazarika who died in 2011 at the age of 85 years, was a poet, playback singer, lyricist and filmmaker all rolled into one, and his works were marked by humanity and universal brotherhood. He had introduced culture and folk music of Assam into Hindi cinema at the national level. The third choice of Bharat Ratna for this year, Nanaji Deshmukh, was an RSS pracharak who rose to become in-charge of Uttar Pradesh in the sixties and was later one of the architects of the BJP in the 1980s. Deshmukh had founded the Deendayal Research Institute (DRI) in 1972 to validate the philosophy of Integral Humanism propounded by Deendayal Upadhyaya and after retirement from active politics, he initiated the Chitrakoot Project, a campaign for self-reliance. He died in 2010 at the age of 94.