Three Bengali Indians have rejected the Padma awards conferred to them this year for individual reasons. Rejection of the Padma Awards is extremely rare. Recipients are required to confirm acceptance before it’s announced by the Government.
Former Chief Minister of West Bengal and CPI(M) Politburo member Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, who’s a staunch critic of the present ruling establishment at the Centre, has rejected the award by saying that he wasn’t aware of the fact that the government has conferred him with it.
“I am not aware of any such thing. If the government has decided to give me (the award), I refuse it,” he said in a brief statement in Bengali posted on his party CPM’s Bengal social media account.
Soon after the veteran CPI(M) leader announced he has rejected the Modi government’s decision to give him the country’s third-highest civilian award, official sources said that a top official of the home ministry had called Bhattacharjee’s home early Tuesday morning.
The former chief minister’s wife picked up the phone as he has been unwell and she was conveyed the central government’s decision to name him as one of the Padma awardees this year.
Bhattacharjee’s wife told the top official that she would inform him about it.
Since no one from the Bhattacharjee household got back to the home ministry throughout the day, his name was announced late in the evening as one of the Padma awardees, they said.
Pandit Anindya Chatterjee
Eminent Tabla player Pandit Anindya Chatterjee has declined to receive the Padma Shri honour.
Chatterjee is the second person from Bengal’s vibrant musical world who was offered the Padma award this year and refused it.
The eminent percussionist, who has been in `jugal bandis’ (duets) with classical maestros like Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan said on Wednesday he had received a phone call from Delhi on Tuesday seeking his consent to accepting the honour.
“However I politely declined. I said thank you but I am not ready to receive Padma Shri at this phase of my career. I have passed that phase,” Chatterjee who received the Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 2002 said.
A disciple of Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh, he has performed at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the past and was the youngest tabla player to perform in the British Parliament’s House of Commons in 1989. Chatterjee said he would have accepted the honour with gratitude had it been conferred on him 10 years back.
“Many of my contemporaries and juniors were given Padma Shri years ago. Anyway, I said with all humbleness, that I am sorry but I cannot accept it (award) now.” Singing legend Sandhya Mukherjee similarly turned down the offer of the Padma Shri Award offered to her by the Centre on Tuesday evening.
“At the age of 90, having regaled generations of listeners for around eight decades, she deserved something more,” her daughter said. Besides Mukherjee and Chatterjee, CPI(M) leader and former West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee also turned down an offer to award him Padma Bhushan on Tuesday.
Singing legend Sandhya Mukherjee also known as Sandhya Mukhopadhyay on Tuesday refused an offer of a Padma Shri award when she was contacted by central government officials telephonically for her acquiesce.
Daughter Soumi Sengupta said Mukherjee told the senior official who called from Delhi that she was not willing to be named as a Padma Shri recipient on being contacted seeking her consent to being named a Padma Shri in the Republic Day awards list.
“At the age of 90, with a singing career spanning over about eight decades, being chosen for Padma Shri is demeaning for a singer of her stature,” Sengupta said.
“Padma Shri is more deserving for a junior artiste, not `Gitasree’ Sandhya Mukhopadhyay. Her family and all the lovers of her songs feel,” the daughter said.
A vast number of netizens supported Mukherjee’s decision. The singer considered for long a prima donna of music in Bengal has also sung for a number of Hindi movie music directors including S D Burman, Anil Biswas, Madan Mohan, Roshan, and Salil Choudhary. Mukherjee received `Banga Bibhushan’, and National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer.
With Agency inputs…