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Home / India News / President Kovind unhappy with I&B ministry’s handling of National Film Awards

President Kovind unhappy with I&B ministry’s handling of National Film Awards

Around 50 award winners skipped the ceremony on Thursday stating they were “disappointed” and “dejected” that President Ram Nath Kovind would hand over only 11 honours.

india Updated: May 05, 2018 07:32 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta
Moushumi Das Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
I&B minister Smriti Irani flanks President Ram Nath Kovind as he gives Boney Kapoor the Best Actress award given posthumously to his wife Sri Devi for her Hindi movie Mom during the 65th National Film Awards on May 3, 2018.
I&B minister Smriti Irani flanks President Ram Nath Kovind as he gives Boney Kapoor the Best Actress award given posthumously to his wife Sri Devi for her Hindi movie Mom during the 65th National Film Awards on May 3, 2018.(Raj K Raj/HT Photo)

The Rashtrapati Bhavan (RB) has conveyed to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) its unhappiness at the manner in which the office of the President was dragged into a controversy over the National Awards due to what it sees as mismanagement on the part of the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB), two senior government officials familiar with the development said.

Around 50 award winners skipped the ceremony on Thursday stating they were “disappointed” and “dejected” that President Ram Nath Kovind would hand over only 11 honours and that this was conveyed to the awardees only a day before the event. An MIB official said on Thursday that a “few disgruntled elements” were responsible for the controversy.

One of the officials cited in the first instance expressed surprise at the controversy because Rashtrapati Bhavan had already informed MIB weeks in advance about the President presenting only 11 awards. The official also expressed dismay at the furore on social media over the President presenting only 11 awards. “It’s a breach of faith by MIB. The impression created that it was a last minute decision taken by the office of the President is wrong and has demeaned the institution. The turn of events has distressed the President and it has been communicated to the PMO.”

The PMO didn’t respond to a message seeking comment.

The second official cited in the first instance said discussions between MIB and the President’s office on the award function started way back in March. “By early April the ministry was informed that the President would be available for only an hour at the function. The ministry was also told to finalise the list of awardees that they wanted the President to honour during the one hour,” the official said.

On May 1, I&B secretary NK Sinha came to President’s Office and met the secretary to the President, Sanjay Kothari, to finalise the schedule. He was also carrying a list of 11 awardees finalised by the ministry, the first official said. “After discussing the final schedule for the May 3 function, both the secretaries went to brief President Kovind. It’s not that the ministry was not in the know,” the official added.

MIB officials did not respond to a specific query on why the fact that the President would present only 11 awards wasn’t communicated to the awardees.

They also didn’t respond to a query on whether the I&B minister had reached out to President Kovind after the controversy.

A Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson had told HT on Wednesday that it has been the practice ever since President Kovind took over that, except for Republic Day or very important meetings, he spends only up to an hour at all functions. In keeping with this, he had alloted one hour for the national awards ceremony.

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