Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s sister, Gita Mehta, who is based in New York, has refused to accept the Padma Shri award conferred to her. The names of the award winners were announced Friday.
Gita, who is an author, has said that just a few months before the elections, if she accepts the award it will be misinterpreted. According to her the timing to announce the award is ‘wrong’.
In a statement issued in New York, Gita said, “I am deeply honoured that the Government of India should think me worthy of a Padma Shri but with great regret I feel I must decline as there is a general election looming and the timing of the award might be misconstrued, causing embarrassment both to the Government and myself, which I would much regret.”
It should be stated here that Gita was conferred the award in the ‘Foreigners’ category for her exemplary work in art and literature.
Three people from Odisha have been conferred the Padma Shri. They are Kalama Pujari (Agriculture), Daitari Naik (Social Work) and Devarapalli Prakash Rao (Work-Affordable Education).
Gita has written books among which are Karma Cola (1979), Raj (1989), A River Sutra (1993) and Eternal Ganesha: From Birth to Rebirth (2006). She has also produced and directed 14 documentaries.