US-based writer Gita Mehta, also the elder sister of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, has turned down the prestigious Padma award, announced on Friday evening. Mehta cited the timing of the award before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, saying it could be misconstrued and cause embarrassment to her as well as the government.
"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," Mehta said in a statement released from New York.
On Friday, the government had announced that 112 people, including one transgender, have been selected for Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri in the fields of art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service etc.
Among the Padma Vibhushan -- the country's second highest civilian award -- and Padma Bhushan awardees are President of Djibouti Ismail Omar Guelleh, L&T chairman A M Naik, veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, former CAG V K Shanglu and former union ministers Kariya Munda and S S Dhindsa. The award ceremony will be held in March or April this year.
Late actor Kadar Khan, former diplomat S Jaishankar and cricketer Gautam Ghambir were among the prominent personalities named on Friday for conferment of this year's Padma awards.