New Delhi: Putting an end to the Padma Bhushan row, the sports ministry today decided to recommend woman shuttler Saina Nehwal’s name for the country’s third highest civilian honour “as a special case”, according to a statement.
Olympic bronze medallist Saina Friday expressed her displeasure at being overlooked for two-time Olympic medal winning wrestler Sushil Kumar. This prompted Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to assert Sunday that he received Saina’s nomination from the Badminton Association of India (BAI) only on Saturday.
However, the ministry decided to recommend her name to the ministry of home affairs Monday.
“The ministry has since received the nomination of Saina Nehwal for Padma Bhushan Jan 3 from Badminton Association of India,” the ministry said in a statement.
“In view of the achievements of Saina, the Department of Sports has decided to recommend her case for Padma Bhushan to the ministry of home affairs as a special case although the last date for making the recommendation is long over.”
After the decision, Saina took to Twitter to thank Sonowal.
“@sarbanandsonwal I would like to thank u so much sir for recommending my name for the Padma Bhushan honour,” tweeted Saina.
The Hyderabadi earlier had questioned the criteria on the basis of which the sports ministry has recommended former world champion Sushil’s name.
As per the norms, there has to be a gap of at least five years between two Padma awards to the same person and Sushil, having got the Padma Shri in 2011, wouldn’t have been eligible for the Padma Bhushan before 2016. However, the home ministry has the prerogative to relax the rules in ‘highly deserving’ cases.
The 24-year-old Saina said her name was rejected last year for the same reason.