Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s sister and US-based author Gita Mehta has turn down Padhma Shri award, named by Government of India among the list of awardees conferred on Republic Day.
As elections are very close, it seems she felt that receving this award may be mis-understood by the people or Odisha, indicating political understanding between BJD and BJP. Stating that she was deeply honoured with this award and thank the government for thinking that she is worthy of a Padma Shri.
However, she said that she is declining the same as there is a general election looming and the timing might be misconstrued, causing embarrassment both to the Government and her.
It may be recalled that last year Gita and her husband, publisher Sonny Mehta, had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a 90-minute meeting. This meeting was taken place ahead of no-confidenc emotion moved by Telugu Desam Party in Lok Sabha, which was opposed by BJD.
This meeting was seen as the BJP’s attempt to cosy up to Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Naveen Patnaik before general elections. That meeting was necessitated by PM Modi’s desperate attempt to get Mehta’s US phone number and speak to her.
Patnaik, much like his Telangana counterpart K Chandrashekar Rao, has been under attack by the Opposition for being soft on the BJP. Patnaik had been conspicuous with his absence from the mega opposition rally in Kolkata on January 19.