NEW DELHI — President Pranab Mukherjee will present the Bharat Ratna award to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today at his residence in New Delhi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be among a host of VVIPs who will be present at Vajpayee's residence in Lutyens' Delhi during the ceremony.
Various political leaders, including Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit have welcomed the awarding of the country's highest civilian award to Vajpayee.
President Mukherjee will also confer the Bharat Ratna on Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (posthumously) on March 30 at Rashtrapati Bhavan along with the Civil Investiture Ceremony for the Padma Awards.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said it's a moment of pride for every Indian that Vajpayee is being bestowed with the Bharat Ratna today.
"It is not only for a political party, for every Indian it's a moment of great pride that former prime minister Atal ji is being bestowed with Bharat Ratna," said Rajnath Singh.
"About Vajpayee ji, I want to say that he is such a personality, not just in Indian politics but also internationally, whose memory brings a sense of reverence in every heart," he added.
"My heartfelt congratulations to Vajpayee Sahib and his family on the day he receives the Bharat Ratna," former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah said on Twitter.
"It was an honour to serve under him as him MOS MEA. I had occasion to travel with him to 4-5 countries. Memories of those trips on Air India One I'll always cherish a lot," he added.
My heartfelt congratulations to Vajpayee Sahib & his family on the day he receives the Bharat Ratna. It was an honour to serve under him 1/2— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) March 27, 2015
As him MOS MEA I had occasion to travel with him to 4-5 countries. Memories of those trips on Air India One I'll always cherish a lot 2/2— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) March 27, 2015
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday described Vajpayee as a truly great statesman who richly deserves the honour of the Bharat Ratna being bestowed on him.
"Happy that Atal Ji is being conferred Bharat Ratna today. A truly great statesman who richly deserves honour. I wish him well..." she tweeted.
Happy that Atal Ji is being conferred Bharat Ratna today. A truly great statesman who richly deserves honour. I wish him well...— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) March 27, 2015
Meanwhile Vajpayee's niece Karuna Shukla on Friday told ANI, "Atal ji is honoured by the Bharat Ratna and the honour of the Bharat Ratna is linked to Atal ji. Both complement each other. We all are very happy."
"There is only one Atal in this country and he will be the only one," she added.
Vajpayee, a three-time prime minister of India, is the first leader from the Bharatiya Janata Party to be given the country's highest civilian award.