Chatwal rubbishes BJP allegations

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New York, Jan.26 (ANI): New York-based Indian American hotelier and Padma Bhushan recipient Sant Singh Chatwal today rubbished the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) allegation of financial wrongdoing and said that he had been cleared of all charges.

"I have been awarded the high American honour of Ellis Island, which is only given after the United States Government makes sure that there is nothing against a person," said Chatwal.

He further clarified that he had been cleared of all allegations of wrongdoing and that the BJP was trying to play politics by questioning the Government of India on awarding the Padma Bhushan to him.

In a brief conversation, Sant Singh Chatwal talked about the contribution he had made to Indo-US relations, especially the political doors that his efforts had opened with the Democratic Party establishment in the United States.

Chatwal said that he was honoured at having been recognized by the Government of India, and added that he would soon be visiting New Delhi to receive the honour.

Chatwal said he was thrilled and grateful to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for recognizing "my efforts and services for this award."

Chatwal's rejoinder was in response to a letter written by Gopinath Munde, the BJP's Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha to the President and Prime Minister expressing his disapproval over the government's decision to bestow the country's third highest civilian honour on Chatwal.

Chatwal was earlier charge-sheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for committing an alleged fraud of nine million dollars on the State Bank of India.

Munde said Chatwal did not deserve the honour due to his controversial financial dealings and urged that it should be taken back.

Following the BJP's demand, the Congress, which heads the UPA Government at the Centre, said the Home Ministry decides the awards and they might have had their reasons for giving it to Chatwal.

Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said the party in general is keen for these awards to be given to people who enhance its prestige and not to those with a taint.

Chatwal is one of the 13 Non-resident Indians to be given Padma awards on the occasion of Republic Day 2010. (ANI)

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