Karnataka government conferred 'Karnataka Ratna' award to late Kannada superstar Puneeth Rajkumar on Tuesday at a grand function held in the premises of the Vidhana Soudha.
Thousands of fans witnessed the programme amid rains and cheered the recognition to their favourite star in the presence of Tamil superstar Rajinikanth, Telugu superstar Jr NTR and Indian author, educator, philanthropist and chairperson of Infosys Foundation Sudha Murthy.
Ashwini Puneeth Rajkumar, the wife of the late actor, received Mysuru peta (traditional cap) and award as thousands cheered and celebrated the moment.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and his cabinet colleagues were also present on the occasion.
On the occasion, Rajinikanth who spoke in Kannada, gave a message of unity by stating that "he would pray before Rajarajeshwari (Hindu goddess), Allah and Jesus that all should live like brothers without differentiation of caste and religion."
The statement by Rajinikanth assumed importance in the wake of recent social unrest in the state.
Rajinikanth further stated Appu (Puneeth Rajkumar) was a son of the God. That kid was with us for sometime and after spending some time, showing the talent he has again united with the God."
"It is raining and I can't take much time. I will talk about Appu, when I come here in future. I heard that when the Karnataka Ratna award was given to his father Dr Rajkumar, it rained. I congratulate the Karnataka government on behalf of Puneeth's fans for conferring him this award," Rajinikanth stated.
Telugu superstar Jr NTR who also spoke in Kannada, stated, Puneeth Rajkumar won the entire state without ego and without waging war. He is the only person to achieve this feat, he stated.
Human beings get heritage and surnames from elderly. However, personality is what an individual develops. With that personality, smile, without any egos. "I am here on the stage not as a superstar but, I am here as his proud friend. I thank the Karnataka government for making me part of this programme," he stated.
Puneeth was a great superstar of Karnataka, proud son, husband, father, friend, actor, dancer and singer. Along with all this, he was a great human being. "I can't see the royal smile on anyone's face that adored Puneeth's face," he stated.
After receiving the award, Ashwini Puneeth Rajkumar thanked the people of the state and the government.