New Delhi: Ace shuttler Saina Nehwal on Saturday lambasted the sports ministry for its refusal to consider her for the prestigious Padma Bhushan this year and demanded that she be conferred the country's third highest civilian honour alongside wrestling icon Sushil Kumar.
Olympic bronze medallist Saina, who was bestowed the Khel Ratna and Padma Shri in 2010 and also received the Arjuna award in 2009, said she was "sad" that the sports ministry felt two-time Olympic medallist Sushil deserves it more than her.
"I was really sad my name was not sent to the ministry of home affairs by the sports ministry of India. I hope sports ministry look up to this and I will be more than happy if both me and Sushil get the award as we both won medals in 2012 Olympics," Saina tweeted.
"I won the Commonwealth Games gold in 2010 and I am the world number four. As a player we feel good when we get such a great award and it motivates."
The Hyderabadi also questioned the criteria on the basis of which the sports ministry has recommended 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.