Chatwal row: Cong says Home Ministry decides on Padma awards | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Chatwal row: Cong says Home Ministry decides on Padma awards

delhi Updated: Jan 26, 2010 18:10 IST

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After BJP opposed the selection of NRI hotel magnate Sant Singh Chatwal for Padma Bhushan, Congress on Tuesday said the Home Ministry decides on the awards and it might have its reasons for choosing him.

"The Padma awards are decided by the Home Ministry after a due process. They might have their reasons for it. Only the Ministry could explain it," party spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said.

The spokesman, however, said that in general the party wants these awards to be given to people who increase its prestige and not to those with a "taint".

"We are not talking of any specific case. But these awards should be given to people who increase its prestige and not to those who have a taint. The award should be given to people whose integrity is not doubtful," Ahmed said.

He said for these awards, the names come from various state governments and other quarters to the Home Ministry. "These are asessed and then shortlisted," the spokesman said.

BJP Deputy Leader of the Opposition Gopinath Munde has written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding that the award to Chatwal be taken back.

Munde in his letter has alleged that due to Chatwal's controversial financial dealings, he did not deserve the honour. Chatwal, who is considered close to former US President Bill Clinton and his wife and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was earlier chargesheeted by the CBI in an alleged USD 9 million fraud case.

Chatwal unfazed over BJP demand that Padma award be taken back

US-based NRI hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal on Tuesday remained unfazed over BJP's demand to the government that the Padma Bhushan awarded to him be taken back in the wake of his controversial financial dealings.

Chatwal, who was earlier chargesheeted by the CBI for an alleged $9 million fraud case connected with the State Bank of India, said he was thrilled and "grateful" to the Indian Government that after such a long time they have really recognised his services towards strengthening Indo-US ties.

"I have really no idea about BJP's objection. I love my country and have been working for the past 30 years. I don't care for the parties. They will come and go," said Chatwal, considered close to former US President Bill Clinton and his wife and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

BJP's Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde yesterday had written a letter to the President and Prime Minister expressing disapproval over the government's decision to bestow the third highest civilian honour on Chatwal.

Munde alleged that due to Chatwal's controversial financial dealings he did not deserve the honour and it should be taken back.

In the wake of the BJP demand, Congress said the Home Ministry decides the awards and they might have their reasons for it. Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed however said that in general the party wants these awards to be given to people who enhance its prestige and not to those with a taint.

Chatwal said he was grateful to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who has recognised "my efforts and services for this award."

Chatwal is one of the 13 Non-resident Indians to be given Padma awards on the occasion of the Republic Day. He had recently announced that his Hampshire Hotels chain would set up 25 hotels in India by 2011.