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Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee, Subhash Chandra Bose?

Speculation is rife that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose might be named for the country’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna.

The speculation was fuelled by the home ministry placing an order for five Bharat Ratna medallions.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders have in the past demanded the Bharat Ratna be awarded to Vajpayee. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is heading the BJP-led government now, would take a call on this and would probably make an announcement it in his Independence Day speech.

Another name doing the round is of Subhas Chandra Bose.

A senior home ministry official said four days ago the government mint was asked to make five Bharat Ratna medallions. “But ordering five medallions does not mean that five persons will be bestowed with the Bharat Ratna. This is to keep adequate number of medallions in reserve,” he said.

According to rules, the number of annual Bharat Ratna awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year. The recommendation for Bharat Ratna is made by the prime minister himself to the president.

But several family members of the late freedom fighter disapproved of the idea and instead demanded that the mystery of his disappearance be solved first. “Netaji has been missing since 1945. When you award him with Bharat Ratna posthumously, you have to say when he died, but where is the evidence? The best way to honour him is to declassify government files which can reveal the truth behind his disappearance,” Bose’s grandnephew Chandra Kumar Bose told PTI.

He said that he had spoken to around 60 family members of the great leader, none of whom was willing to accept the award on his behalf.

“All of us feel that Bharat Ratna is not the appropriate award for him. None of us will go and accept the award,” Bose said.

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