BHUBANESWAR: Eminent writer Gita Mehta, who is Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s elder sister, on Saturday declined to accept the Padma Shri award, saying its timing could be “misconstrued” in an election year. Mehta, 76, will be awarded the Padma Shri in the field of literature and education, the Centre had announced on Friday.
“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, who is the sibling of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief and daughter of former CM Biju Patnaik, said in a statement from New York, reports PTI., Elections to Lok Sabha as well as the Odisha Assembly are due to be held together this year.
Mehta’s declining of the Padma award, however, triggered a row in the state with the BJP saying her action was “not appropriate” and the Congress claiming that the whole episode showed the close links between the ruling BJD and the BJP.
Prominent among the books authored by Mehta are ‘Karma Cola’, ‘A River Sutra’, ‘Snakes and Ladders: Glimpses of Modern India’ and ‘Eternal Ganesha: From Birth to Rebirth’.