The government will award the Bharat Ratna to five people this year, the highest yet. Along with the previously announced L K Advani and Karpoori Thakur, the government has also decided to honour Chaudhary Charan Singh, PV Narasimha Rao, and Dr MS Swaminathan. Conventionally, the Prime Minister recommends the persons to the President, who gives it away. However, breaking the tradition, as is normalised now, the PM announced the names of some recipients. However, that is the least of anyone's concerns. The problem is what lies behind the choice of persons selected for this distinction. The names announced plainly reek of the motives behind them.
When the nation is about to exercise its franchise, the BJP is leaving no stone unturned in consolidating all opinions in its favour to demonstrate absolute acclaim from the people. The Ratna has become a tool towards political ends.
Advani's role in the degraded landscape of Indian politics is monumental. A nation conceived as secular has become divided by communal politics. As one of the venerable paterfamilias, he was instrumental in the growth of the BJP and the Hindutva ideology and in raising it to what it is today. Though later sidelined by his party with a grand empty title, his charm remains among the cadres. The Ratna will be an apology for not inviting him to Ayodhya, which was his initiative and the guru dakshina from his protege.
Thakur is a well-known socialist from Bihar who worked to represent the intermediate castes in the north better. Honouring Thakur will surely pay dividends in Bihar, where caste is a significant factor in garnering votes.
Rao served as the prime minister of India from 1991 to 96. He was the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, noted for his accomplishments as a legislator and for the economic reforms. Tipping hats for him might bring better results in the state.
Jayant Chaudhary's profuse praise for Modi for nominating Charan Singh amidst looming signs of the RLD jumping off the INDIA bandwagon speaks volumes. Additionally, it also appeals to the Jat community, which he represents.
In remembering Swaminathan's significant contributions to agriculture and the upliftment of the farmers, Mr Modi is attempting to raise browny points from among the agricultural community after the 2020-21 farmers' protest and another one in the works.
A look at the slew of the Ratna recipients over the years clarifies that its use in politics is nothing new. The current actions are only a continuation of the traditions laid down by the previous governments. The provisioning of the award at this time checks a few more strategic boxes aimed at winning the upcoming elections, which is almost in the bag for the BJP.
The BJP has shown quite well that it has innovation and will be bold in taking any steps to fulfil its dream of gaining unlimited power. As the INDIA block slowly fragments off its edges, any actions that can shake the hold of Hindutva at this point will be nothing short of miraculous.