Writer Gita Mehta declines Padma Shri, says timing could be misconstrued
New Delhi, Jan 26: Renowned author and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik's sister Gita Mehta has declined to accept the Padma Shri saying the timing of the award is not right as the general elections are round the corner.
Padma Shri is the highest civilian award in the Republic of India, after the Bharat Ratna, the Padma Vibhushan and the Padma Bhushan. The Padma Shri is conferred by President of India at ceremonial functions which are held at Rashtrapati Bhawan usually around March/ April every year. This year's Padma award list announced on the eve of Republic Day on Friday.
Mehta, in a statement, said she was honoured to be considered for the award, but with general elections hardly a few months away, it may cause embarassment.
"I am deeply honoured that the Government of India should think me worthy of a Padma Shri but with great regret I feel I must decline as there is a general election looming and the timing of the award might be misconstrued, causing embarrassment both to the Government and myself, which I would much regret (sic)," the statement said.
The BJD chief and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik has aligned either with the BJP or the opposition. An award to his sister at this juncture could be perceived as the BJP-led government's attempt to woo the BJD.