Pranab Da gets Bharat Ratna, Gandhis skip event. But why?
Pranab Mukherjee, one of the tallest leaders of Congress, was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honor on Thursday, by President Ram Nath Kovind. Naturally, several prominent personalities went to Rashtrapati Bhavan to congratulate the former President, but the Gandhis were nowhere to be seen. That members of Congress' first family skipped the ceremony caught attention, and rightly so. Here's what went down.
BJP leaders attended Congressman Mukherjee's big event
The ceremony was attended by a spate of BJP leaders. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, several Union Cabinet Ministers, and Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal were spotted at the President's House. BJP veteran LK Advani and Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu were also in attendance. The Bharat Ratna was also awarded posthumously to Bhupen Hazarika and Nanaji Deshmukh.
Was an honor to witness you receiving Bharat Ratna: PM
Dear @CitiznMukherjee,— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 9, 2019
It was an honour to witness you receiving the Bharat Ratna, a fitting recognition of everything that you have done for the nation.
Thank you for leaving no stone unturned towards making India more developed. pic.twitter.com/R6YNVDtjPF
Neither Gandhis nor former PM Dr. Singh attended the event
As far as Congress is concerned, the attendees' list was short. Anand Sharma, Ahmed Patel, Bhupender Singh Hooda, Janardan Dwivedi, RPN Singh, Sushmita Dev, and Shashi Tharoor, were the ones who attended the event. UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, her son and former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, and former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh gave it a miss. And reports have it that Rahul was invited.
Mukherjee's political career has been splendid
Mukherjee, who remained India's president between 2012 and 2017, has been associated with Congress for more than two decades. He was the Union Finance Minister from 2009 to 2012. Known for his sharp memory and grasp over issues, Mukherjee had a huge role to play in reforms like RTI Act. Fondly known as Pranab "Da", Mukherjee is the fifth president to receive Bharat Ratna.
Last year, Congress leaders expressed "dismay" after Mukherjee attended RSS-event
When Mukherjee was invited for an RSS event in 2018, and he accepted the invitation, some Congress leaders got upset. Party leaders CK Jaffer Sharif and Hanumanthappa expressed shock, but the 82-year-old attended the event in Nagpur nevertheless. In his address, Mukherjee spoke about "pluralism"
In tweet, Congress reminded Mukherjee worked with the party
While the top brass of Congress didn't attend the event, the party put out a tweet congratulating Mukherjee. "He worked tirelessly across multiple decades to serve the people of India in multiple roles including that as Union Minister in several Congress Govts,(sic)" Congress' tweet read. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot also tweeted congratulations. However, Rahul is yet to tweet about Mukherjee.
Obviously, BJP members had questions for Gandhis
Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi didn’t attend the ceremony that awarded Bharat Ratna, among others, to long time Congressman and former President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee. Guess why?— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) August 8, 2019