Pranab Mukherjee had attended a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) event in 2018, despite it being the ideological wing of rival Bharatiya Janata Party
Hazarika and Deshmukh were given the Bharat Ratna posthumously.
"Congratulations to Pranab Da on being awarded the Bharat Ratna. The Congress party takes great pride in the fact that the immense contribution to public service and nation building of one of our own, has been recognised and honoured," he said on Twitter.
Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the Republic of India
The former president also lauded the students who were awarded for their exemplary performance saying academics is not the only sphere which makes an individual succeed in life but holistic development.
To a question on how a leader should handle criticism, Mukherjee said, "Criticism is part of life, criticism is not always bad, it is not always negative."
Mukherjee, who was speaking at the inauguration of a national conference on "Towards Peace, Harmony and Happiness: Transition to transformation" here, stressed the need for maintaining the delicate balance of power between institutions and the state, as provided in the Constitution.
The former president was speaking at the launch of former Union minister Natwar Singh's book 'Treasured Epistles'.
The foundation named after the former president that will initiate, support and execute projects aimed at improving the quality of life of people, was launched earlier this year in Delhi.
Appreciating his effort, the group assured him of all help required to carry forward the good work at the grassroot level
Vajpayee was a democrat to the core, Mukherjee said as he expressed sadness at his demise.
India occupies the 133rd place (according to a world survey) in overall happiness ranking in 2018, Mukherjee said.
The RSS's decision to invite Pranab Mukherjee to address its volunteers last month, and the latter's decision to accept the invitation, had raised many eyebrows
Pranab Mukherjee's decision to address the RSS Shiksha Varg and attend a parade by Sangh workers on June 7 has raised quite a few eyebrows in the political circle.
The former president's daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee, took to Twitter to express her anger and accused the BJP/RSS of morphing the image.
Advani, who has served as the BJP president for the longest period, expressed his happiness over the RSS under Bhagwat expanding and intensifying its efforts to reach out to various sections of the nation in the spirit of dialogue.
Pranab Mukherjee's speech seems to have stirred a hornet's nest. Here are a few reactions:
"Exactly! That's how I grew up, & that's why I don't have any problem expressing my differences with him on issues even in public. We are a democratic, argumentative family; & I learnt this from my father only,"
Mukherjee warned that any attempt to define India through "religion, hatred, dogmas and intolerance" will dilute our existence and said public discourse must be freed of all forms of violence, as he addressed an RSS event despite criticism by the Congress and his family.
An astute politician of the Grand Old Party, Mukherjee asserted that reasoned public engagement is essential in a democracy
Speaking ahead of Mukherjee's speech, Bhagwat said Mukherjee would remain what he was and the Sangh would remain the Sangh even after the event.
Mukherjee particularly highlighted the imperative to free public discourse from all forms of violence, besides putting compassion, harmony and non-violence as the centre stage of public life, Surjewala said.
Mukherjee said intolerance will only dilute India' national identity and Indian nationalism emanated from universalism, assimilation and co-existence.
The former President is set to address Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh workers and it remains to be seen what he would say, considering his earlier stand against the Sangh. Stay tuned for all the live updates.
P Chidambaram advised Pranab Mukherjee to use this opportunity to point out what was wrong with the RSS ideology