Balasaheb Thackeray Dead
The Prime Minister and leader of Bharatiya Janata Party, Atal Bihari Vajpayee (L), and Bal Thackeray (R) wave to the crowd during an election campaign rally in Mumbai April 23, 2004. (A file photo)Reuters

The Union government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is likely to confer Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, on former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and few other eminent personalities.

Deviating from Gandhi's non-violent methods to achieve freedom from the British Raj, Netaji pursued armed struggle and disappeared in the process in 1945.

Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee has been a long-standing demand especially by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Vajpayee led the first BJP-headed government at the Centre between 1999 and 2004.

Apart from Vajpayee and Netaji, names of freedom fighter Madan Mohan Malviya, Dalit leader and founder of Bahujan Samaj Party Kanshi Ram and legendary hockey player Dhyanchand are also being considered for the award. The government is said to have asked the Reserve Bank of India to keep five Bharat Ratna medallions ready.

While numerous names have been considered for the award, Government rule allows only three personalities be awarded Bharat Ratna per year. Modi is likely to announce the names selected for the country's highest award in his Independence Day speech on 15 August, reported The Hindustan Times.

Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and the country's eminent scientist CNR Rao were honored with Bharat Ratna last February by the UPA government.

Meanwhile, family members of Netaji are not willing to accept the award. According to his grandnephew Chandra Kumar Bose, about 60 family members are not willing to accept the award on behalf of the great freedom fighter.

"Netaji has been missing since 1945. When you award him with Bharat Ratna posthumously, you have to say when he died, but where is the evidence? The best way to honour him is to declassify government files, which can reveal the truth behind his disappearance. All of us feel that Bharat Ratna is not the appropriate award for him. None of us will go and accept the award," he said.

Members of Netaji's family have instead asked the government to form a Special Investigation Team headed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court to thoroughly investigate into the disappearance of Netaji.