Social activist Nanaji Deshmukh
Social activist Nanaji Deshmukh

New Delhi: Social activist Nanaji Deshmukh will be posthumously honored with India's highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, by President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday.

Born on October 11 in 1916 in a small town of Hingoli in Maharashtra, Deshmukh represented Uttar Pradesh's Balrampur constituency in the Lok Sabha from 1977 to 1979. From 1999 to 2005, he also served as a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha.

Deshmukh was honored with the Padma Vibhushan earlier. One of the founding members of Bharatiya Jan Sangh, Deshmukh established a chain of RSS-inspired schools throughout India. He was associated with the RSS till his death at the age of 94 in 2010.

The veteran also played a key role in the Jai Prakash (JP) movement against Emergency in 1974 and was instrumental in the formation of the Janata Party government in 1977. After being selected for India's highest civilian award, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had extolled Deshmukh for his service to the country.

"Nanaji Deshmukh's stellar contribution towards rural development showed the way for a new paradigm of empowering those living in our villages. He personifies humility, compassion, and service to the downtrodden. He is a Bharat Ratna in the truest sense!" Modi had tweeted.

The announcement for Bharat Ratna was made on January 25 in a statement issued by the Rashtrapati Bhavan, which also said the award would be given to Former President Pranab Mukherjee, and noted Assamese singer Bhupen Hazarika.

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