NEW DELHI: Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and one of the most-respected politicians across parties will be conferred the Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award, today.
President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be among a host of VVIPs who are expected to be present at Mr Vajpayee's Delhi residence where he will be honoured.
The announcement of the award for Mr Vajpayee, the first Prime Minister from outside the Congress party to serve a full five-year term, came on December 24, a day before he turned 90.
He was Prime Minister from 1998 to 2004, and has been seriously ill for the last few years.
Among his boldest initiatives was his historic bus journey to Lahore in 1999 when he signed the landmark Lahore Declaration with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with both sides pledging to push for peace and security.
The Bharat Ratna announced earlier for noted educationist and freedom fighter Madan Mohan Malviya will be given posthumously to his family members on March 30 at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
An educationist with a vision, Mr Malviya was behind the establishment of the Banaras Hindu University.
Mr Malviya is also remembered for his stellar role in the Independence movement.
The recommendation for the Bharat Ratna is made by the Prime Minister to the President.
In 2013, when the UPA government had announced the Bharat Ratna for former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and scientist CNR Rao, the BJP had criticized the Congress for ignoring Mr Vajpayee's contribution to the nation.
Since its inception, 43 people including former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bhadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi have received the prestigious award.