Nagpur, Jan 4: Union minister Nitin Gadkari has said that veteran Bollywood actress Asha Parekh had approached him seeking recommendation for Padma Bhushan award and that many others have been "chasing" him as they want the highest civilian honours.
He said giving away Padma awards has become a "headache" these days.
"Asha Parekh had come to me seeking recommendation for the prestigious Padma Bhushan award, saying that she was entitled to it," Gadkari said at a function here last night.
The Minister said that he was being "chased" for such recommendations.
"(We) receive so many letters for (recommending) Padmashree and Padma Bhushan. I have sent around thousand recommendations until now. So many people now want Padmashree and Padma Bhushan.
"One actress met me, she has turned old...Asha Parekh. She came to meet me in Mumbai. The lift to my residence was not working, she climbed up 12 floors, I felt very bad. I asked her why she took the trouble.
"She said I have received Padmashree Nitinji, now I want Padma Bhushan. I said you have received Padmashree, it is like Padma Bhushan (only). She said 'no'. She said she has done so many films. Asha Parekh is a big name truly but somewhere she felt that she should get Padma Bhushan."
The Padma Bhushan is the third highest civilian award after the Bharat Ratna and the Padma Vibhushan and comes before the Padmashree. Gadkari claimed that Parekh had told him that she was entitled for the Padma Bhushan due to her massive contribution in Indian film industry.
Efforts to get Parekh's reaction did not fructify. Parekh, 73, was honoured with Padmashree in 1992, and Lifetime Achievement award in 2014. She was one of the top stars in Hindi films from 1959 to 1973 and had worked with all top heroes of her time including Shammi Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar, Rajesh Khanna and others.