It is disappointing that the Central government did not announce to confer the Bharat Ratna award on Shivakumara Swami, iconic Lingayat seer who died recently, said Congress veteran Mallikarjun Kharge on Saturday.
Speaking to ANI, Mr Kharge said, "I welcome the decision to give Bharat Ratna to Pranab Mukherjee, but Shivakumara Swami Ji worked a lot in the education sector and spent his life working for the orphan and their education. He should be honoured with the Bharat Ratna award. We had expected this."
Shivakumara Swami died on January 21 at 111 years. In Karnataka, Swami was often referred to as the "walking god" among his followers. His education society runs over 100 educational institutions in the state. The renowned Lingayat seer joined the Siddaganga Mutt in 1930 only to become its seer in 1941 after the death of his guru Uddana Swami.
Mr Kharge also criticised the BJP for not pitching Swami's name for the Bharat Ratna. "The government had seen his work. Even then the BJP government did not give him the award. This is sad. A singer and a man who propagated RSS ideology have also been awarded. If you compare all of them, then Shivakumara Swami Ji should have been given the award," he said.
A political controversy has erupted after the Central government on Friday declared the name of former President Pranab Mukherjee for Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, along with noted singer Bhupen Hazarika and Nanaji Deshmukh, an RSS ideologue, posthumously.
Apart from serving as the President of the country, Mr Mukherjee has held the charge of top ministries including Finance and External Affairs.
Talking about the ongoing political crisis in Karnataka, Congress leader Mr Kharge accused the BJP, RSS and the Central forces of trying to destabilise Karnataka before the coming Lok Sabha elections.
"The BJP, RSS and all the Central forces are at work to destabilise Karnataka before the Lok Sabha elections and bring in the Governor's rule but this won't happen. No matter how much you try to pull us down, if one goes, ten will come back," Mr Kharge said.