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Saina Nehwal's dad asks: Rules were relaxed for Sushil Kumar, why not for her

Saina Nehwal’s father, Dr Harvir Singh Nehwal, says that when Saina applied for Padma Bhushan, she was told that she can only apply after five years (of receiving Padma Shri, which she got in 2010), but Sushil got the Padma Shri in 2011 (so his five-year gap completes next year in 2016).

entertainment Updated: Jan 05, 2015 17:19 IST
Debasmita Ghosh
Debasmita Ghosh
Hindustan Times
Saina Nehwal,Padma Bhushan,Sushil Kumar

Saina Nehwal’s father Dr Harvir Singh Nehwal is disgusted with reports suggesting that the badminton champ is not being considered for the Padma Bhushan award this year because she’s probably not a "deserving" candidate or possibly less deserving than wrestler Sushil Kumar, who has been chosen for the prestigious award, out of turn.

A source in the sports ministry was recently quoted in a daily saying that "... we picked Sushil as we felt he was a deserving candidate."

Reports suggest that the Badminton Association of India (BAI) had reportedly recommended Saina’s name for the award to the Sports Ministry of India in August 2014 but the ministry apparently sent only wrestler Sushil Kumar’s name to the Ministry Of Home Affairs that takes the final call.

"We have nothing against Sushil, he is like a son but on what basis are they saying that my daughter is not a deserving candidate. This is extremely insulting and belittling," Dr Nehwal told us on phone from his Hyderabad home. "Saina is all alone in Bangalore, and my poor girl was in tears after reading such a ridiculous thing. She has won such tough world championships for the country, and this is how they treat her?" asks the doting dad, adding that since the official list is not issued by the ministry yet, it was unethical for inside sources to reveal only a few names including Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Mithali Raj, who are reportedly being considered, too.

"What were they trying to do by listing out all these names, and then saying Saina’s not being considered because she is not deserving. Why create such unnecessary bitterness within the sports fraternity with such unfair comparison? My daughter is not begging for the Padma Bhushan but atleast don’t break her heart and weaken her morale by such insensitive and baseless comparisons ... this will affect her game," he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Nehwal also clarifies that the 24-year-old ace shuttler applied for the civilian award as per the rules of the ministry. "Saina got the Padma Shri in 2010. In 2013 when she sent her file (for the Padma Bhushan for 2014), we got a letter where it was written in big fat words that she can only apply when the five year gap is complete, which is this year — 2015. Sushil, on the other hand, got the Padma Shri in 2011 so his five year gap only completes next year in 2016 so how can they relax rules for him, and not even consider my daughter even though it’s her valid turn?" wonders Dr Singh.

Saina tweets her disappointment

On Saturday, an aghast Saina Nehwal lashed out on Twitter clearly showing her disappointment over the government’s decision to overlook her candidature for the Padma Bhushan award. In a slew of tweets she wrote:

"... I was really sad to see that my name was not sent to Ministry of home affairs by sports ministry of India. I got the Padma Shri in 2010 and there is a policy that you can get the next Padma award only after five years and this year I completed my five years."

"When I sent my file in 2014 for the Padma Bhushan award the ministry said you have to follow the rules and submit the application after five years so my file got rejected last year and I again applied this year for the award. I read that Sushil Kumar’s name is recommended by the Sports ministry and he has not completed five years, as a special case ... but even I won the Olympic bronze medal in 2012 and won many titles in 2014. I won the commonwealth Games gold in 2010 and I’m world Number 4. As a player we feel good when we get such a great award and it motivates. I hope sports ministry look up to this and I will be more than happy if both me and Sushil gets the award as we both won medals in 2012 Olympics. But I think rule is rule for me they said u have to wait for five years to get the award. Friends I am not demanding for the award ... my question was why my name was not sent to the home ministry (sic)."

First Published: Jan 05, 2015 08:05 IST