'Azad not Ghulam': Jairam Ramesh's swipe at Ghulam Nabi Azad over Padma Award
Former Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was also offered the award
"Right thing to do. He wants to be Azad, not Ghulam", Jairam Ramesh wrote
Padma award nominees are informed before the official list is released
Ghulam Nabi Azad's Padma Bhushan award this year Republic Day has created a buzz amongst the Congress party, with Jairam Ramesh taking a veiled jibe at the senior party leader. Former West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was also named for the Padma Bhushan award, however, he declined.
"Right thing to do. He wants to be Azad, not Ghulam", Jairam Ramesh wrote in response to a tweet that announced Bhattacharjee had turned down the award. Ghulam Nabi Azad has not responded to the statement so far.
The controversy was further fueled minutes later after Jairam Ramesh posted an extract from a book that mentioned the case of former bureaucrat PN Haskar, who had also declined the award.
The tweet read from Jairam Ramesh read, "In Jan 1973, the most powerful civil servant of our country was told he was being offered the Padma Vibhushan on his leaving the PMO. Here is PN Haksar's response to it. It is a classic, and worthy of emulation."
Former West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said in a statement issued in Bengali, "I don't know anything about the Padma Bhushan. No one has told me anything about it. If indeed they have given me the Padma Bhushan, then I reject it", according to reports from NDTV.
With multiple assembly elections around the corner, the intra-party disagreements are likely to add fuel to the political rivalry. Punjab and Uttar Pradesh are expected to be the main ballot-battlegrounds for the upcoming elections.
Also Read: Padma Awards 2022: Check full list here
Media reports suggest that such refusals of Padma awards are rare as those being presented with the honour are informed beforehand. The official list is released by the government only after the awardee has accepted.
However, officials in the Home Ministry said that in the case of former Bengal CM Bhattacharjee's case, his wife was told about the award. She later thanked the Home Secretary for it, according to reports from NDTV.