Former Union Ministers Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, and George Fernandes were on Monday awarded the Padma Vibhushan posthumously for last year. Former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was awarded the Padma Bhushan.
The two BJP veterans, the firebrand trade unionist were conferred with the second-highest civilian award in the public affairs category. All four leaders died in 2019.
President Ram Nath Kovind handed over the awards to Mr Jaitley's wife Sangeeta Jaitley, Ms Swaraj's daughter Bansuri Swaraj and Mr Fernandes's wife Leila Kabir, respectively.
Manohar Parrikar's award was received by his son Utpal Parrikar.
Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar were among those present at the ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan where the President awarded 73 Padma awards.
The names of the award winners had been announced on the eve of Republic Day last year but the ceremony was delayed due to the Covid pandemic.
The Padma citation described Mr Jaitley as a veteran political leader and lawyer who was instrumental in undertaking fundamental economic reform as the Union Finance minister. Ms Swaraj was credited with transforming the External Affairs Ministry into a "people's ministry" and Mr Fernandes was described as a "veteran public leader, trade unionist and socialist".
A total of seven Padma Vibhushan awards were announced out last year. Apart from the three political figures, the others comprised former Mauritius president Anerood Jugnauth, who died earlier this year, Indian classical musician Chhannulal Mishra, legendary boxer and MP M C Mary Kom and Sri Vishvesha Teertha (posthumous), head of the Sri Pejavara Adhokhaja Matha in Karnataka's Udupi.
Last year's Padma award list also included 16 Padma Bhushans and 118 Padma Shri awards.