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Naveen Patnaik's Sister & Author Gita Mehta Declines Padma Shri to Avoid Pre-Poll 'Embarrassment'

In statement, Gita Mehta said the award may end up embarrassing both her and the government months before elections.


Updated:January 26, 2019, 1:40 PM IST
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New Delhi: In a rare snub to the government, New York-based author and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s sister Gita Mehta has declined the Padma Shri award announced on the eve of Republic Day, saying the timing of the gesture months before elections may be “misconstrued”.

In a statement, Mehta, who was awarded the Padma Shri in the field of literature and education, said the honour may end up embarrassing both her and the government.

“I am deeply honoured 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 misconstrued, causing embarrassment both to the Government and myself, which I would much regret (sic),” the statement said.

Prominent among the books authored by Gita Mehta are Karma Cola, A River Sutra, Snakes and Ladders: Glimpses of Modern India and Eternal Ganesha: From Birth to Rebirth.

The 76-year-old writer has also produced and/or directed 14 documentaries.

Hours after Gita's statement, Naveen Patnaik took to Twitter to congratulate the Padma awardees from Odisha, skipping his sister's name.

Months before she was conferred the honour, Gita and her husband, famous publisher Sonny Mehta, had reportedly met Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an unusually 90-minute long meeting, which was seen as the BJP’s attempt to inch closer to BJP leader Naveen Patnaik before parliamentary and assembly elections

Patnaik, much like his Telangana counterpart K Chandrashekar Rao, has been under attack from the anti-BJP bloc, particularly the Congress, for being soft on the saffron party. The BJD chief had also given the mega opposition rally in Kolkata on January 19 a miss.

Reiterating his party’s charge of the BJD being a ‘B team’ of the BJP, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had at an election rally in Odisha on Friday accused Patnaik of being “remote-controlled” by Modi.

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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