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Dhyan Chand Ratna push

Dhyan Chand

New Delhi, Aug. 12: Recommendations for a Bharat Ratna to hockey wizard Dhyan Chand have been sent to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Lok Sabha was informed today.

“Although no formal recommendations for Bharat Ratna are necessary, recommendations have been received for a Bharat Ratna to the late Dhyan Chand from several quarters. These have been forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Office,” junior home minister Kiren Rijiju told the House.

In 2011, then sports minister Ajay Maken had written to home minister P. Chidambaram to alter the norms for the nation’s highest civilian honour to include sportspersons. The rules were changed eventually for the UPA government to be able to honour Sachin Tendulkar.

But sports ministry insiders said Maken had specifically named Dhyan Chand and claimed changes were made in the Prime Minister’s Office of Manmohan Singh. A recent statement by Rijiju in Parliament lent credence to the theory when he said the hockey legend’s name was proposed but it was the PMO that took the final decision.

The sports ministry sources said they had not sent any fresh recommendation on Dhyan Chand since a communication last year when the honour for Sachin was being considered.

This time, the names of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Dalit icon Kanshi Ram are also doing the rounds.

Sources in the home ministry, the nodal department for the award, said five medallions had been ordered from the RBI mint, but clarified it did not necessarily mean as many honours would be given in a year.

According to guidelines, only three can be handed out in a year. Sachin and scientist C.N.R. Rao have already bagged the award this year.

The catch is that the announcement can be made this year and the award given away around Republic Day next year.

The honour for Sachin was announced on November 16, 2013, his last day on the field, but was bestowed on him in February this year.