The Samajwadi Party (SP) Tuesday demanded that the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, be bestowed upon socialist Ram Manohar Lohia, former prime minister Charan Singh and poet Gopal Das "Neeraj".In a letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, state PWD minister Shivpal Singh Yadav, who is also the younger brother of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, demanded the honour be given to the trio.In the letter, Shivpal Yadav said Lohia was not only a front-ranking socialist idealogue but was actively involved in the 1942 "Quit India" movement against the British Empire and that he fulfilled all parameters for the Bharat Ratna. He also demanded the honour for former prime minister Charan Singh, saying his contribution to farmer politics and their welfare was immense.The senior SP leader also sought the Bharat Ratna for Gopal Das "Neeraj", 90, who is admired by Mulayam Singh. He has penned several chartbusters for Bollywood flicks.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, however, made light of the letter, billing it a "political and publicity stunt having very little meaning"."The timing shows that it is just an effort to join the chorus of Bharat Ratna for someone or the other. If the SP was so serious about conferring the honour to these eminent people, why did they not do so when the UPA was in power for 10 years," said state BJP spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak, while pointing to the fact that the UPA was dependent on outside support of the SP when it was in power. "They could have easily got their way" he added.