New Delhi: Freedom fighter and the founder of Banaras Hindu University, Madan Mohan Malviya, was today posthumously conferred with the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award, by President Pranab Mukherjee in a ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan here. Named for the honour 68 years after his death, it was the members of Malviya’s family, including granddaughters Hem Sharma and Saraswati Sharma and grandsons Premdhar Malviya and Girdhar Malviya, who received the award in the Darbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan at a cermony attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Vice President Hamid Ansari, among others. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, too, were in attendance along with other senior Cabinet ministers.
However, no Congress leaders, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, were spotted at the function even though government sources said that, as per the protocol, all former prime ministers are invited for the function.The President also bestowed the highest Padma award, the Padma Vibhushan, on BJP stalwart LK Advani, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Sanskrit grammar expert, Jagadguru Swami Rambhadracharya.
Known for his espousal of Hindu nationalism, Malviya, an educationist, was behind the establishment of the Banaras Hindu University and was also the initial founders of right-wing organisation, Hindu Mahasabha. Prominent Padma Bhushan awardees included noted lawyer Harish Salve, journalists Swapan Dasgupta and Rajat Sharma and 98-year old Saichiro Misumi — a proponent of Indo-Japanese friendship who had supported Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose during his visit to Japan in June, 1943.
Of the 109 Padma Awards announced this year, 43 were conferred today while six awardees did not attend the function. The remaining 60 Padma awards will be given next month with the tentative date for the ceremony being April 8, the sources said.