The former West Bengal chief minister and CPM leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharya refused to accept the Padma awards on the eve of Republic day.
Buddhadeb Bhattacharya said in the press statement that, “I know nothing about this award, no one has told me anything about it. If they have decided to offer Padma Bhushan to me, I refuse to accept it.” It is an established procedure that before the announcement of the name of such civilian honours, the government seeks the consent of the prospective awardees, and if anyone conveys any objection or shows unwillingness, he or she is not named.
“In accordance with the normal practice, willingness of the person proposed to be conferred Padma awards is informally ascertained before the announcement of the award,” the government had told Rajya Sabha in 2015 answering to a question.
The home ministry had made a call to Buddhadeb’s residence where his wife Meera picked the phone. She was told by the ministry that the government intended to name Buddhadeb for the Padma Bhushan. There was a whole day between the call and the announcement but no one from their family got back to the home ministry about his unwillingness to accept the award.
Now his family claims that the phone was disconnected before they could convey to the concerned official of the ministry that Bhattacharya would not accept the award. They also claimed that the call was made on the landline, hence they had no way to call back.
Soon after the announcement, The CPM top leadership in New Delhi contacted Buddhadeb’s family and persuaded them to refuse it since the party as per the tradition doesn’t accept such honours. In the 1990s CPM leader and the first chief minister of Kerala EMS Namboodiripad had turned down PV Narsimha Rao’s offer to award him Padma Vibhushan. The Narendra Modi government has made a marked departure and set a new tradition of honouring people cutting across ideology and party line.
In 2017, the government conferred Padma Vibhushan on NCP chief Sharad Pawar. In 2019, It awarded Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour to former President and lifelong Congressman, Pranab Mukherjee.
Singer Sandhya Mukherjee also rejected the Padma award this year, because she felt it was demeaning for a singer of her stature. She had a career of 8 decades and Padma Shri is fitting for a Junior artist, and not someone like her, who has been earlier awarded with the Banga Bibhushan Award.
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