Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj expressed disappointment over former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee not getting the Bharat Ratna this year, saying the Bharatiya Janata Party was expecting it. She also said the sanctity of these awards should be maintained as even some failures have been conferred with the honour.
"When the Padma awards were announced, we were in custody. We expected a Bharat Ratna for Atal Bihari Vajpayee," Swaraj said on twitter. She was referring to the announcement of Padma awards on the eve of Republic Day when Swaraj and her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley were detained in Jammu while they were on their way to Lal Chowk in Srinagar to hoist the national flag.
The BJP has often batted for Vajpayee saying he deserved the highest civilian award. Senior leader L K Advani had earlier written a letter to the prime minister requesting that Vajpayee should be awarded the Bharat Ratna for his services to the nation. Several senior BJP leaders had then followed suit and echoed these views.
Swaraj, in an apparent reference to Vajpayee's Padma Vibhushan award in 1992 for public affairs, tweeted, "Today a former Prime Minister is Padma Vibhushan-
She further mentioned that her other recommendation for a Padma Shri for noted Hindi writer Narendra Kohli was also ignored. "But then Padma list lacks rationale," she tweeted. "There are definitely some men of achievements. There are also those who have been honoured for their failures," she said.
The BJP has often cited the case of controversial NRI hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, who was awarded a Padma award by the UPA government, to say some undeserving individuals had got the awards. Chatwal is facing charges of tax evasion and failure to repay a huge loan from an Indian public sector bank. "We must enhance the sanctity of the Padma awards. We should devise a mechanism to ensure that men of letters are not ignored," Swaraj tweeted.