Guwahati, Aug. 11: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bestow the coveted Bharat Ratna on cultural icon Bhupen Hazarika posthumously.
“I have written to the Prime Minister asking him to consider Hazarika for the Bharat Ratna. I will also personally take up the matter with the Prime Minister,” Gogoi said.
The chief minister’s push came a day after Assam BJP president and Union minister Sarbananda Sonowal said his party would move the Centre yet again for the honour and he was hopeful the latter would respect the popular sentiments of the people of Assam. This, however, is not the first time that the Gogoi government is making a push to secure the honour for Hazarika. Dispur had on January 10, 2012 formally moved the Prime Minister’s office for posthumously conferring the Bharat Ratna on Hazarika, who passed away on November 5, 2011 in Mumbai following multi-organ failure.
The then chief secretary Naba Kumar Das had written to Pulok Chatterji, principal secretary to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to bring the “unanimous” Assembly resolution passed on December 9, 2011, to the “notice” of the Prime Minister for “needful” action.
The resolution had sought the Bharat Ratna in recognition of the bard’s service to the “advancement” of humanity and for “enriching” the art and culture of the country. Gauhati University, where he was cremated with state honours, was flooded with posters put up by fans demanding the Bharat Ratna for him.
The maestro was conferred the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award. Hazarika had been bestowed, among others, with the Padma Shri (1977), Padma Bhushan (2001), Sangeet Natak Akademi award (1987), and Dadasaheb Phalke Award (1992).
Only Gopinath Bordoloi, Assam’s first chief minister, has received the Bharat Ratna from Assam posthumously. This also came during the reign of Atal Bihari Vajpayee who is likely to be conferred the highest civilian award by the Centre on August 15 along with late Bahujan Samaj Party founder Kanshi Ram.
The All Assam Students’ Union has also reiterated its demand to confer the country’s highest civilian award on Hazarika. AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharjya said the students’ union had demanded for this honour even when the singer was alive. “Hazarika’s works will continue to inspire the people of Assam and the country. He deserved the award even when he was alive. Now it is high time for the central government to select the singer for the award,” he said.