New Delhi [India], January 26 (ANI): Listing the recipients of this year's Padma awards on the eve of the country's 74th Republic Day, the BJP-led government at the Centre on Wednesday kept up with its transformative political culture of honouring leaders in the Opposition with the country's top civilian honours.
And, the latest in the line of Opposition leaders to be honoured by the BJP government with a Padma award is late Samajwadi Party (SP) patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav.
As declared on Wednesday, the former UP chief minister and Defence minister, who went by the nickname 'Netaji', will be conferred posthumously with the Padma Vibhushan, the country's second-highest civilian honour after Bharat Ratna, this year.
A host of other Opposition leaders, including former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, former Congress leader and JammuKashmir CM Ghulam Nabi Azad and the late former Assam CM Tarun Gogoi were honoured with Padma awards earlier.
However, the family members of Bhattacharya, a CPM stalwart, refused to accept the award last year.
While the late former Assam CM Gogoi was conferred with the Padma Bhushan in 2021, late former President and Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee with the Bharat Ratna in 2020.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, who quit the Congress and floated a separate outfit, was confeerred with the Padma Bhushan last year.
Former Maharashtra CM and NCP chief Sharad Pawar and former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma (posthumously) were also awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2017.
Former Nagaland CM SC Jamir was honoured with Padma Bhushan in 2020 while Nagaland Congress leader Tokheho Sema also received the country's third highest civilian honour in 2016.
Also among the Opposition leaders to be conferred with the Padma awards by the Narendra Modi government were former Rajya Sabha MP Tarlochan Singh and PDP leader Muzaffar Baig.
In 2005, the then UPA governmnent led by the Congress, conferred the Padma award on the esrtwhile Janata Party leader and social worker Mohan Dharia.
However, he was recognised more for his social work than being a leader in the Opposition.
Not unlike previous years, the government this year will honour distinguished persons from diverse fields with Padma awards. They include MM Keeravani, the music composer behind the cult 'RRR' chartbuster 'Naatu, Naatu', which won the Golden Globe and the Critics Choice awards this year, and 102-year-old Sarinda player and one of West Bengal's most celebrated folk artistes, Mangala Kanti Roy.
Both will be conferred with the Padma Shri this year.
Also among the Padma recipients this year are 12 distinguished persons from the Northeast, which has been at the forefront of the Centre's 'Look East' policy.
Retired Army doctor Munishwar Chanddawar (77), who treats his patients at a meagre fee of Rs20 in his native Madhya Pradesh, has also won a Padma award this year. A veteran of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War has been practising medicine in Jabalpur for over 5 decades.
98-year-old Tula Ram Upreti, a small farmer from Sikkim, has also been awarded Padma Shri for being a role model in Organic Farming practice over the past 70 years.
The Padma Awards website says, "The Padma awards are one of the highest civilian honours of India announced annually on the eve of republic day. The awards are given in three categories: Padma Vibhushan (for exceptional and distinguished service), Padma Bhushan (distinguished service of higher order) and Padma Shri (distinguished service). The award seeks to recognize achievements in all fields of activities or disciplines where an element of public service is involved."The Padma Awards are conferred on the recommendations made by the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year.
The nomination process is open to the public and even self-nominations are considered. The Padma Awards Committee is headed by the Cabinet Secretary and also includes Home Secretary, Secretary to the President and four to six eminent personalities as members. The recommendations of the committee are submitted to the Prime Minister and the President for approval. (ANI)