Former West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, two eminent artistes- legendary singer Sandhya Mukhopadhyay and tabla maestro Pandit Anindya Chatterjee have rejected Padma Awards, report agencies.
On Tuesday, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who was conferred the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award, promptly issued a statement declining it.
In Bhattacharjee's case, home ministry officials explained the flub saying the call was received by his wife, who had thanked the Home Secretary for the award.
Sandhya Mukhopadhyay, the 90-year-old who has a singing career spanning eight decades, refused a Padma Shri -- the fourth highest civilian honour -- saying it suits a junior artiste and not someone of her stature.
Mukherjee's daughter Soumi Sengupta said when the call on the award came from Delhi, her mother told the senior official that she felt ‘insulted’ at her being offered the award at her age.
“Padma Shri is more deserving for a junior artiste, not 'Gitasree' Sandhya Mukhopadhyay. Her family and all the lovers of her songs feel,” Sengupta said.
Pandit Anindya Chatterjee who accompanied maestros like Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, also said he had signalled his negative when he received the phone call from Delhi seeking his consent.
The Indian Congress, meanwhile, stands divided over the Padma Bhushan to senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, with leaders who called for a sweeping organisational change are openly sparring with Gandhi family loyalists.
While leaders like Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal and Shashi Tharoor have congratulated Mr Azad over the government recognition, senior leader Jairam Ramesh has commended Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's refusal of the award. “Right thing to do. He wants to be Azad not Ghulam,” his tweet read.
The Indian government on Tuesday announced the Padma Awards ahead of Republic Day 2022.