Mukherjee's Bharat Ratna has some critics too

Former President Pranab Mukherjee. PTI file photo

The Bharat Ratna for former President Pranab Mukherjee has attracted some criticism with a section questioning the choice citing his certain controversial moves, including his visit to RSS headquarters.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi were quick to congratulate him, the first to fire the salvo was JD(S) Secretary General Danish Ali who accused the government of conferring the nation's highest civilian award to Mukherjee "just because he went to the RSS headquarters.

The BJP-led NDA government's move is seen as an attempt to woo voters in West Bengal ahead of Lok Sabha polls where the BJP seeks to make electoral inroads as well as sending a signal that it is not averse to honouring political adversaries.

On Friday late night, Ali told DH, "towering Congress leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhai Patel might be turning in their graves as the government has chosen a person who has gone to the RSS headquarters and showered praise on its leader K B Hegdewar. He and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have common big industrialist friends. May be it also played a role."

"If the government wanted to give award in political category, there were other leaders. Why did not they choose Kanshi Ram or Biju Patnaik. It is unfortunate that they are not conferred Bharat Ratna before Mukherjee," he said.

Ali suggested that the award should have been given to Siddaganga mutt seer Shivakumara Swami, who passed away recently. "They did not choose him because he did not belong to their (Sangh) ideology," he claimed.

Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah also suggested that Shivakumara Swami should have been chosen for the award for his social work. "Just visiting the mutt and sitting beside his mortal remains is not enough. We welcome honouring Mukherjee but the seer should also have been honoured," he said.

Historian Ramachandra Guha also appeared to question Mukherjee's choice when he suggested that a non-BJP public figure who "truly deserves" the Bharat Ratna is M S Swaminathan, for his services to science and agriculture. "To choose the controversial Pranab M over the credible MSS is mystifying. It won't even get the BJP many votes in West Bengal," he tweeted.

AAP leaders were also very critical of the choice of Mukherjee and even referred to his alleged links with industrialist houses. AAP's Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh tweeted that Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Ram Manohar Lohia did not get Bharat Ratna yet but late Nanaji Deshmukh, singer and former BJP candidate Bhupen Hazarika and Mukherjee who graced an RSS function get Bharat Ratna.

He also claimed Mukherjee as President took forward the move to disqualify 20 AAP MLAs on a petition claiming that they were holding office of profit. They were later disqualified by President Ram Nath Kovind but Delhi High Court reinstated them.

Interestingly, AAP supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's media advisor Nagendar Sharma too joined by tweeting, "visiting RSS headquarters certainly pays extremely rich dividends in lifetime". He also said those with links to business houses visiting RSS headquarters is a "sure shot formula for achieving anything". 

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Mukherjee's Bharat Ratna has some critics too

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