Former West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Tuesday said he was not aware that he had been named for the Padma Bhushan and he would reject it if it were so, in a rare instance of a recipient turning down one of India’s top civilian honours.
“I don’t know anything about a Padma Bhushan award. No one told me anything about it. If they have given me a Padma Bhushan award. I am rejecting it,” he said in a brief statement in Bengali posted on the social media pages of his party CPM’s Bengal social media pages.
The Home Ministry said the Union Home Secretary had spoken with Mr Bhattacharjee’s wife about the award this morning. She had accepted the award and said thanked, the Home Ministry said, explaining the flub.
A fierce critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, the 77-year-old has been suffering from age-related ailments along with heart and lung conditions for quite some time and has largely retracted himself from public appearances.