The Centre's announcement came ahead of Vajpayee's birthday, who will turn 90 on Thursday and 153rd birth anniversary of Malviya.

"The President has been pleased to award Bharat Ratna to Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya (posthumously) and to Atal Bihari Vajpayee," a press communique from Rashtrapati Bhavan said.

READ MORE: Bharat Ratna to Vajpayee, Malviya is 'fitting recognition': PM Modi

Vajpayee, who was Prime Minister from 1998 to 2004, and has faded from public life due to age-related illness, is lauded as a statesman and has been often described as the moderate face of BJP.

Vajpayee has been credited with taking bold initiatives and making attempt to bridge Indo-Pak differences.

READ HERE: Profile: Atal Bihari Vajpayee - A statesman politician

India's longest serving Prime Minister outside of Congress party, Vajpayee's detractors called him the "mask" of RSS but still always had good words for him.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the conferment of Bharat Ratna on Malviya and Vajpayee was a "fitting recognition" of the services of the "illustrious stalwarts" to the nation.

READ: Nitish brings resolution to greet Vajpayee for Bharat Ratna

Describing Vajpayee as one of the greatest communicators that India has ever seen, Union Minister Arun Jaitley said he made his presence felt at the national level and was committed to peace in Southeast Asia.

Several BJP leaders and MPs, including Murli Manohar Joshi, have demanded that the top honour be awarded to Vajpayee. NDA partner Shiv Sena too came out in support of conferring Bharat Ratna to the first BJP Prime Minister.

READ MORE: Congress welcomes Bharat Ratna to Vajpayee, Malviya

An educationist with a vision, Malviya's main achievement was the establishment of the Banaras Hindu University.

Born on December 25, 1861, Malviya was catapulted into the political arena immediately after his first moving speech at the second Congress session held in Kolkata in 1886. He was President of INC in 1909 and 1918.

MUST READ: Madan Mohan Malviya - A great patriot

Malviya is also remembered for his stellar role in the Independence movement and his espousal of Hindu nationalism. He was one of the initial leaders of the right-wing Hindu Mahasabha.

ALSO READ: Political leaders hail Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee, Malviya

The recommendation for Bharat Ratna is made by the Prime Minister himself to the President. No formal recommendation for this is necessary.

Last year, when the UPA government had announced Bharat Ratna for former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and scientist CNR Rao, BJP had criticised Congress for ignoring Vajpayee's contribution to the nation.

Mamata Banerjee welcomes Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee welcomed the Centre's decision to confer 'Bharat Ratna' on former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

"I welcome the decision. We all love and respect Vajpayeeji," Banerjee, who served as a minister in Vajpayee Cabinet, said.

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