New Delhi, Jan 27: The prestigious Padma award given to US-based hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, who was recently accused in a 9 million dollar bank fraud, has sparked off a row.
While the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) questioned the Prime Minister as to why an alleged fraudster was getting the award, Congress has washed its hands off the issue holding Home Ministry responsible for the decision.
"The Padma awards are decided by the home ministry after a due process. They might have their reasons for it. Only the ministry could explain it," party spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said on Monday, Jan 27.
Ahmed later said that the party was in favour of giving one of India's highest civilan awards to those who increase its prestige and not to those with a 'taint'.
"The award should be given to people whose integrity is not doubtful," Ahmed added.
Earlier, Deputy Leader of Opposition Gopinath Munde wrote a letter to PM Manmohan Singh demanding that the award given to Chatwal should be taken back.
However, the NRI, who was also briefly arrested in connection with the fraud case, rubbished the BJP's allegations and thanked the Prime Minister for honouring him with the prestigious Padma Bhushan award.
The Padma awards which are presented to distinguished personalities for their achievements in various fields are the highest and most sought after awards.
They are awarded to the selected people after approval from Home Minister, Prime Minister and President. So, the Prime Minister and the President too should answer the Opposition's question as to why the award was given to someone with a tainted image as the country is left wondering if there was an award quota for bank fraud.