Geeta Mehta, a noted English Writer and the sister of Odisha’s chief minister Naveen Patnaik, declined the Padma Shri – the fourth highest civilian award – a day after being named for it. The Union Government announced the award on Friday, a day before the 70th Republic Day. However, Ms. Gita Mehta declined the prestigious honor, citing ‘misconstructed timing of the award’ as the reason.
Ms. Mehta issued a press release after being nominated for the award – “I am deeply honored 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 misconstructed, causing embarrassment both to the Government and myself, which I would much regret.”
It is clear that Ms. Mehta thinks of this move by the Modi Government as an attempt to appease the opposition party (here BJD of Naveen Patnaik) before the general elections in May this year, and as a reason, she declined the honor bestowed on her. It is worth mentioning that Ms. Mehta has authored several books in English including Karma Cola, Raj, Glimpses of Modern India etc. She has also directed 14 television documentaries.