Lok Sabha MP Kirit Solanki on Wednesday stated that during the times of Congress honours like Padma Shri were only given to close family members or people with political status but now, even a commoner like Gujarat singer Hemant Chauhan can get a Padma Shri.

Dr Solanki, BJP MP from Ahmedabad West, said, "During the time of the Congress government, this honour was given only to the close people of one family or the people with political status. But now, things are different. Now, it is given after taking cognizance of people who have worked in public service and getting complete knowledge about them and giving the Padma Shri award to those who have truly contributed to society, to the people, to literature, to public awareness, to the arts."

Gujarati singer and writer Hemant Chauhan was given the Padma Shri award this year. Chauhan hails from the Rajkot district and specializes in Bhajan, religious and Garba songs and other folk genres. His first album was released in 1978 and ever since he has been singing devotional songs.

"Every Gujarati is happy with this honour. Even a person from the remote villages of Gujarat can make it big. It's only under our PM Narendrabhai that the backward, poor, middle-class people of the country, who never dreamt of going to the Rashtrapati Bhavan and accepting the Padma Award from the President of the country, can dream of getting this award," he added.

To celebrate the life and work of Chauhan, a cultural event is organised at Gujarat University on May 26, at 6.30 p.m. The event is open to all.