Sonowal says Saina applied only on Sat, BAI contradicts
Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Sunday said that his ministry received the letter of nomination of badminton star Saina Nehwal for the Padma Bhushan only on Saturday, but said it will “examine the possibility of recommending” her name for the award on Monday.
Badminton Association of India, however, maintained that it had sent its nomination of Saina for the prestigious award on time in August last year.
Saina had expressed disappointment at the Sports Ministry deciding to reject her application for the prestigious Padma Bhushan this year but Sonowal on Sunday sought to put the record straight, saying that his ministry received the letter of nomination only on Saturday.
“I have seen reports in sections of the media that Sports Ministry didn’t recommend the name of Ms Saina Nehwal for the Padma Bhushan award. On ascertaining the facts, I have come to know that Sports Ministry had not received any nomination from the Badminton Association of India prior to January 3, 2015,” Sonowal said in a statement.
“A packet containing a letter, dated August 9, 2014, nominating Ms Nehwal for the Padma Bhushan award was received by the staff at my residence on January 3, 2015,” he said.
Sonowal, however, said that despite the late receipt of her application, his ministry would examine on Monday the possibility of recommending her name to the Home Ministry for the award. “I would also like to categorically state that Ms Saina Nehwal has made every Indian proud and I sincerely hope she will continue to bring laurels to Indian sports,” he said.
“I would like to assure everyone that my ministry would examine the possibility of recommending her name separately,” he said.
BAI, however, said it had sent the letter of nomination in August last year and it has got the acknowledgment of receipt from the sports ministry.
“We had sent the recommendation on August 9th and we also received an acknowledgment for the same from Sport Ministry. I don’t know what is the confusion. In fact, when Saina had called the officials of the ministry, initially they said they haven’t received the letter but later said it is there but they didn’t consider,” BAI President Akhilesh Das Gupta said.
“I think Saina is a deserving candidate and she needs to be considered for the Padma Bhushan, or else it will be an injustice to her,” he added. On Saturday, Olympic bronze medallist Saina had expressed disappointment that the ministry chose to reject her name while picking two-time Olympic medallist wrestler Sushil Kumar. Sonowal, however, said that nothing should be read into the recommendation of Sushil for the prestigious award.
“Further, Sushil Kumar, a two time Olympian and medal winner, was recommended on merit. Nothing more should be read into it,” he said. He also said that the rule which envisages a five-year gap for a person to be recommended for another Padma Award will also be examined on Monday.