Nehru gave himself the Bharat Ratna in 1955 when he was the Prime Minister. Similarly, Indira Gandhi gave herself the Bharat Ratna in 1971 when she was the PM – SG Suryah
BJP Spokesperson SG Suryah has tweeted an image describing it as, “Nehru and Indira style of awarding Bharat Ratna to self. Congress party has always been a disgrace on Indians. Good they are being eclipsed”. A similar post was tweeted by Central Minister Smriti Irani.
What is the Truth?
The claim might have emerged because of the nomination procedure for the Bharat Ratna awards. The nominations are made by the Prime Minister to the President. When Jawaharlal Nehru received the Bharat Ratna award in 1955 he was the PM and much like her father, Indira Gandhi was the PM in 1971 when she received the award.
But no information on the procedure of nomination is mentioned in the official gazette information released for instituting the Bharat Ratna award on January 2, 1954, and in the official gazette information released for including posthumously for the award on January 15, 1955. In 2011, few changes were updated. And in an official document related to Bharat Ratna by the government which was uploaded on December 7, 2011, it is mentioned, “The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister himself to the President. No formal recommendations for this are necessary”. The same is mentioned on the ‘Padma awards’ website.
27th May 2020 dated ‘The Wire’ article reports, “This decision by the President was ‘kept a closely-guarded secret’. Prasad described Nehru as the ‘great architect of peace in our time’. In fact, the President himself confessed that he had acted unconstitutionally as he had decided to confer the honour ‘without any recommendation or advice from my PM’ or the cabinet, as a Times of India report dated July 16, 1955”.
This shows that Nehru did not recommend the award for himself.
15th January 2019 dated ‘The Quint’ article reports, “Indira Gandhi was given the award for steering India to victory in the 14-day-long war with Pakistan over East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. In an article for ABP News, Kidwai notes that then-President VV Giri took full responsibility for conferring the honour on India”.
It is evident that Presidents Rajendra Prasad and VV Giri who were the then Presidents recommended and awarded Bharat Ratna to Nehru in 1955 and Indira Gandhi in 1971 respectively. It is not Nehru and Indira themselves who recommended the awards.