Former president Pranab Mukherjee has been awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, along with music maestro Bhupen Hazarika and Jan Sangh member and social activist Nanaji Deshmukh. Many believe the choice of Pranab Mukherjee, a lifelong Congressman, for the top award delivers a less-than-subtle political message in election season. Interestingly, writer Gita Mehta, who is Odisha Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's sister, declined the award saying that in an election year, the timing could be misconstrued. So are this year's awards as much about political messaging than they are about recognising service to the nation? In his thank you message, Pranab Mukherjee chose to remind the importance of the Constitution in the context of India's ethnic and religious diversity.