Saina: Who Am I To Demand The Padma Award?

06/01/2015 8:07 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST
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DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 19: Saina Nehwal of India serves as she plays against Bae Yeon Ju of Korea in the Womens Singles during the BWF Destination Dubai World Superseries Finals day three at the Hamdan Sports Complex on December 19, 2014 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images for Falcon)

Badminton ace Saina Nehwal is "upset" that her quest to know the reason behind the rejection of her nomination for Padma Bhushan snowballed into a big controversy, saying that she never demanded the prestigious award and would respect the decision of the Sports Ministry.

"I didn't really like the way media put it that I have demanded the award. Who am I to demand the award. I am nobody. I am a sportsperson. I play for my country. I just wanted to know why my name was not considered. I just wanted the eligible players' name to be considered. That's all. Finally what the panel decides is what I am going to respect," said Saina.

"My work is just to play for my country and win as many medals as possible. Rest, I don't know why I was simply put into this controversy and Sushil (Kumar) is a great friend and people have made it really big. I am really upset about it. This is not the right way to put it," she said.

Talking about two-time Olympic medallist Wrestler Sushil Kumar, whose name was recommended by Sport Ministry to the Ministry to Home Affairs as a special case, Saina said: "Me and Sushil always speak to each other. We are from the same place as well, Haryana. There is nothing wrong between us. I will be very happy if Sushil gets the award."

The Sports Ministry decided to recommend Saina for the Padma Bhushan award but insisted that it did not receive her nomination from the Badminton Association of India (BAI) within the stipulated deadline.

"In view of the achievements of Ms. Saina Nehwal, the Department of Sports has decided to recommend her case for Padma Bhushan to the Ministry of Home Affairs as a special case although the last date for making the recommendation is long over," the Ministry said in a statement.

Thanking Sport Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Saina said: "I am thankful to Mr Sonowal Sir for doing this and it's a great support." On Saturday, a disappointed Saina had stated that BAI had recommended her name for the Padma Bhushan in August last year but the Sports Ministry rejected her application, citing norms.

Saina took to Twitter on January 3 to express her displeasure at being told that she has to wait for five years for being nominated for the next Padma award since she received her Padma Sri in 2010.

In a series of tweets, Saina said she was cited rules when she raised the issue of the awards with the ministry.

As the controversy over Saina being recommended for the Padma award grew, questions were raised about why other sportspersons could not avail of the same discretion used in case of the badminton star.

"If the ministry is ready to accommodate a nomination after the deadline, then why not make a special case for London Olympic medallist shooter Gagan Narang, who got the Olympic medal a year after getting the Padma Shri and also won medals in the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Or, for Beijing Olympic medallist Vijender Singh, who got the Padma Shri in 2010, and went on win gold at the 2010 Asian Games and silver at the 2014 CWG," Saurabh Duggal, writing for Hindustan Times, asked.

Duggal argued that the same rule should also apply for wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, he said.

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