Saina Nehwal can be now relieved finally as the Sports Ministry, who had rejected her nomination for the prestigious Padma Bhushan award, decided to recommend the name of the ace shuttler for the same on Tuesday.
A ministry statement said, “In view of the achievements of Ms. Saina Nehwal, 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.” Though her name is now considered to the list, Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal averred that the letter of nomination was received late.
While Nehwal said the Badminton Association of India (BAI) had recommended her name for the Padma Bhushan in August last year but the Sports Ministry rejected her application, the statement restated, not just this year but it did not receive any letter from BAI nominating Saina for the Padma awards in 2013 as well.
The statement said, “It is also clarified that Ministry had not received any nomination in respect of Ms. Saina Nehwal last year either. So the question of Department of Sports intimating Ms. Saina Nehwal that her nomination for Padma Bhushan was not recommended to the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2013, as there has to be a gap of 5 years between two Padma Awards, does not arise.The Ministry has since received the nomination of Ms. Saina Nehwal for Padma Bhushan on 3rd January, 2015 from Badminton Association of India.”
Meanwhile, BAI had refuted it and BAI President Akhilesh Das Gupta claimed, “We had sent the recommendation on August 9th and we also received an acknowledgment for the same from Sport Ministry. I don’t know what the confusion is. In fact, when Saina had called the officials of the ministry, initially they said they haven’t received the letter but later said it is there but they didn’t consider.”
As per norms, there has to be a gap of at least five years between two Padma awards to the same person. While Nehwal was said this as a reason, she had questioned accepting two-time Olympic wrestler Sushil Kumar’s nomination and raised her voice against the discrimination. Sushil, who was awarded the Padma Shri in 2011, would not have been eligible for the Padma Bhushan before 2016.
However, the ministry made it clear by stating, “Shri Sushil Kumar’s recommendation for Padma Bhushan Award was made after taking into consideration his achievements, viz. Bronze Medal in Beijing Olympic Games-2008; Gold medal in Commonwealth Games-2010; Gold Medal in Senior World Wrestling Championship-2010; Silver Medal in London Olympic Games-2012; Gold Medal in Commonwealth Games-2014; and several other achievements at national and international level.”
Whereas, amid the controversies, Nehwal expressed her displeasure over the way how the media put the news. According to a news report, she said, “I didn’t really like the way media put it that I have demanded the award. Who am I to demand the award. I am nobody. I am a sportsperson. I play for my country. I just wanted to know why my name was not considered. I just wanted the eligible players’ name to be considered. That’s all. Finally what the panel decides is what I am going to respect.”
She has also said that Sushil Kumar is her friend. “We are from the same place as well, Haryana. There is nothing wrong between us. I will be very happy if Sushil gets the award.”